Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger in America by 2015


December 18, 2009
Alan Gold, RESULTS Domestic Senior Advisor

RESULTS has long advocated for adequate and nutritous food for all children in America. See our Child Nutrition page.

On December 17, the National Anti-Hunger Organizations (NAHO, of which RESULTS is a member) released the Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger in America by 2015. Former Congressman and Ambassador Tony Hall is now director of the Alliance to End Hunger. He led off the release of the NAHO Roadmap, saying that nearly one in four American children live in food insecure households, according to U.S. Census and Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. He noted that President Obama has committed to ending childhood hunger by 2015, and said that Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s strategies are on the right track. He asserted that Undersecretary Kevin Concannon is uniquely qualified to lead USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) at this time.

Mr. Concannon said that USDA food assistance programs have never before been so important. Over 37 million people were enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in September, a record high, and half of recipients are children. FNS’s top priority is assuring that kids have safe and balanced nutrition.

He cited data showing that only 66 percent of those eligible participate in SNAP. This varies by state. Only 56 percent of eligible Hispanics are enrolled. USDA is encouraging states to use categorical eligibility criteria to allow easier access and ease their administrative burden.

The undersecretary noted that 31.5 million children receive free or reduced price lunch at school. Here also, USDA wants to see expanded direct certification, so that a child whose family is on SNAP or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families is automatically eligible for free lunch.

FNS is preparing new regulations on food quality based on new Institute of Medicine recommendations. Healthy meals cost more, of course, so FNS is looking forward to child nutrition reauthorization to take this into account.

David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, called upon President Obama to speak out forcefully on steps to reduce poverty as well as to improve food programs. Ending hunger could be the organizing principle behind many of the things the administration is doing.

Jim Weill of Food Research and Action Center said that SNAP is the most important federal anti-hunger program, both in amount of money and number of people affected. We need to broaden the eligibility rules, reach more of those eligible, and improve the amount of benefits.

Several speakers pointed out that the solution to hunger is not just more and better food programs. The society needs job opportunities and an array of supports to raise real incomes.

We expect Bread for the World to campaign in 2010 on low-income tax code provisions. The earned income tax credit and the child tax credit stand out.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), author of the Summer Food Service Program is so low. He said that it is a tragedy that kids are hungry and falling back in their education. He pointed out that summer food sites have an opportunity to engage children in activities to improve reading skills and enhance student performance in other ways.

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