Statement Attributable to Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America:
“A new report, Freedom from Hunger: an Achievable Goal for the United States of America, was released by the National Commission on Hunger today.
“We commend the Commission for reaffirming unanimously that hunger is both a serious and solvable problem and for recognizing that ending hunger will require both a strong federal safety net and a strong charitable response, as well as commitment and action from elected leaders and individual members of America’s communities.
“The Commission was constrained from the beginning by its mandate, which was limited to making recommendations to use existing USDA programs and funding more effectively and to encourage public-private partnerships and community initiatives. As a result, many of the recommendations that would have the greatest impact, such as improving SNAP benefits, are structured as pilot projects, despite the existing and growing body of high-quality research that reinforces SNAP’s effectiveness and demonstrates that increasing SNAP benefit levels can reduce hunger.
“While not a blueprint for ending hunger, the report contains several common-sense and actionable recommendations that will help strengthen federal nutrition assistance programs and public-private partnerships to ensure more struggling Americans have access to the nutrition assistance they need while they get back on their feet.
“We commend the Commission, whose members represented a wide variety of perspectives and views, for the considerable time they spent hearing from experts and people impacted by hunger around the country. They also visited a variety of community programs.
“We are pleased the Commission’s report clearly recognizes that low-income families and individuals face an array of challenges to stabilizing their lives beyond food insecurity. Lack of transportation, affordable quality child care, adequate housing and job skills present significant barriers for millions of people struggling to move out of poverty.
“We commend the Commission for recognizing the need to serve low-income people more holistically by encouraging cross-agency collaboration and facilitating program coordination, while avoiding polarizing and unhelpful proposals, such as block granting, that would dramatically weaken the federal safety-net.
“We appreciate that the Commission recognized that federal nutrition assistance programs are working successfully to alleviate food insecurity, improve health and child development and lift families out of poverty and for stating emphatically that ending hunger requires addressing root causes such as limited economic growth, lack of opportunities, unemployment and underemployment, low-wages and education- issues that were beyond the Commission’s mandate. Sufficient income is the best defense against hunger.
“Addressing hunger historically has been an area of strong bi-partisan commitment. We urge Congress to continue that commitment. We ask them to work to strengthen access to federal nutrition programs, ensure benefit adequacy and to address the root causes of hunger.
“With Congress scheduled to take up reauthorization of Child Nutrition Programs this year, there is an immediate opportunity to strengthen these vital programs, and specifically to improve access to the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP), which currently reaches only about 18 percent of eligible children. The Commission’s report includes several policy recommendations that would strengthen SFSP and ensure that more eligible children are able to get the nutrition they need to grow and thrive all year round
“Ending hunger will require investment of additional resources, but as the Commission’s report and other recent research demonstrates, such an investment will provide strong returns in improved health, educational, economic and child development outcomes.”
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Feeding America is the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America. Feeding America also supports programs that improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.