Secretary Vilsack Issues a Call to Action to Combat Hunger in America
WASHINGTON, April 29, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined hunger advocates today to issue a call to action to end hunger in America. Secretary Vilsack announced a series of new online tools and volunteer initiatives to increase the number of individuals, organizations, and governments actively working to end hunger across the country.
"If our nation is to win the future, we must make sure that all Americans have access to the nutrition they need," said Vilsack. "The federal government cannot end hunger alone so we are calling on the American public, corporations, schools, and community and faith-based organizations to get involved and make a commitment to end hunger."
Today, more than 50 million Americans are at risk of hunger, including 17 million children. Although USDA's nutrition programs provide assistance to 1 in 4 Americans and have kept the levels of food insecurity at bay during the recession, many eligible children and families do not participate. Working together, government, non-profit and faith-based organizations, and the public can make sure that no one goes hungry in the U.S.
"Millions of our neighbors are experiencing the hardship of hunger, and we must expand our efforts to provide food assistance to those in need," said Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Patrick A. Corvington. "In the midst of our great national abundance, the existence of widespread persistent hunger is inexcusable and new initiatives like the ones we are announcing here are critical to bringing an end to hunger."
During his remarks, Vilsack was joined by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) CEO Patrick A. Corvington at Bread for the City, a local food pantry, to highlight the following new initiatives found at www.fns.usda.gov/ech:
- Stakeholder Guide to Ending Childhood Hunger, a guide to assist individuals and organizations in choosing value-added activities and finding resources to help end childhood hunger;
- Become a Champion to End Hunger, an online commitment drive that encourages organizations and the public to select actions they will take to reduce childhood hunger;
- End Hunger Volunteerism Portal (www.serve.gov/endhunger), a website developed by CNCS where organizations can post volunteer opportunities and individuals can search for volunteer opportunities in their communities;
In his remarks, Corvington announced a commitment of 325 AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associates that will be placed in anti-hunger organizations across the country this summer to feed more children by increasing participation in USDA's Summer Food Service Program, developing farmers markets and community gardens, teaching nutrition to families and youth, and increasing the long-term capacity food pantries, soup kitchens, food banks, and other faith-based and neighborhood organizations.
Vilsack today thanked Bread for the City and other stakeholders for their unwavering efforts to combat hunger, assist communities, and increase access to USDA's nutrition assistance programs. Vilsack also recognized CNCS for their partnership with USDA to use AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers to expand the number of meals served to hungry children this summer and for the creation of the National Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps which has placed 48 AmeriCorps VISTA members in communities across the nation to increase enrollment of eligible households in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). He also recognized their work to strengthen anti-hunger organizations across the U.S. and for the creation of www.serve.gov/endhunger
These new efforts come on the heels of numerous efforts over the years by USDA and partners across America to end hunger. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act President Obama signed into law on December 13, 2010 is a significant investment in our children and efforts to end childhood hunger. The act expanded the at-risk meals program (CACFP) which provides supper and after-school snack to low-income children to all states. The Act also makes it easier for children to receive free meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs through more expansive direct certification and community eligibility using existing data sources. USDA also recently announced a series of grants to help states agencies and their partners focus on improving program access for individuals, children and families in need. Those include $5 million in participation grants for SNAP and $5 million to 14 Hunger-Free Communities grantees in multiple states across the nation.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov
for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.