Earlier this month, the Food Research and Action Center shared a comprehensive plan of action to end hunger in America. This plan lists clear steps that our nation can take to achieve this goal, but it most certainly cannot be done unless Congress #stopsthecuts and starts to invest in proven programs.
Fortunately, we know what works. The federal nutrition programs are helping millions of low-income Americans get access to healthy food where they shop, live, and learn. Research has demonstrated again and again the ability of these programs to improve health, to cut health care costs, to boost children’s learning, to lift people out of poverty, and to fight hunger. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) alone lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2014. The Summer Nutrition Programs help sites that offer enrichment activities also offer healthy food, keeping children’s minds and bodies fueled when school is out. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program makes sure pregnant mothers and young children get the nutrition they need at such a critical point in their development. The list could go on.
The federal nutrition programs are marvels of public policy. Congress can and must do more to ensure they stay strong and that their structure is protected so they can continue to deliver healthy foods. A good start is the upcoming Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill. For example, Congress should use this opportunity to strengthen the Summer Nutrition Programs by including some of the excellent provisions from the Summer Meals Act that would help more sites – like Y’s, Boys and Girls Clubs, Parks and Recreation departments and others – offer quality food and programming to children in their care. This would go a long way to filling the hunger gap which is created when school closes for the summer months and children lose access to healthy school meals. Other priorities include investments in child care food and even more support for summer programs
Such improvements are just one step, however, the nutrition programs alone cannot – and should not – carry the burden alone. There must be a holistic approach to ending hunger which includes addressing its root cause: poverty. We cannot solve hunger unless employment levels and wages rise substantially. Government work and income supports (such as Unemployment Insurance, EITC and Child Tax Credit, TANF, job programs, and SSI) are essential to reducing hunger and should be improved.
Our economy is on the mend and smart policies would go a long way to building a stronger recovery that can reach all Americans. The good news is that we know what works. It is up to our leaders to speak aggressively about their plans to end hunger in America and to recognize that the failure to address hunger is a human, economic, and fiscal disaster
Yes, it is time to #stopthecuts. It’s time to #talkpoverty so we can #endhungernow. And how can you help? Share this plan to end hunger and ask your Members of Congress to share their solutions. By raising awareness, we can – together – achieve the goal of a hunger-free America.