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James M.
Democrat MA 2

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  • End Hunger Now

    by Representative James P. McGovern

    Posted on 2013-03-13

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    McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, once again I rise to talk about hunger in America and, specifically, the effort to end hunger now.

    Mr. Speaker, hunger is still far too prevalent in America. There are more than 50 million people in this country who don't know where their next meal will come from. Seventeen million of those hungry people are children--17 million, Mr. Speaker. That breaks my heart, especially when we have a way to end hunger in this country. It doesn't have to be this way.

    The truth is that hunger is solvable. We have the means, the infrastructure, and the food to end hunger. We just don't have the political will to do so.

    This point is delivered in a clear, concise, and emotional way in a documentary that is in theaters now called ``A Place at the Table.'' This film at its core may be a simple story of hunger in America, but it's really an emotional tale about how people are struggling with hunger in this country, about piecing just enough together to make ends meet day by day, week by week, and month by month.

    These stories are not new and, unfortunately, they aren't unique. We don't have to look far to see a working mother who struggles to provide nutritious food for her children. We don't have to look far to see a young girl who struggles in school simply because hunger prevents her from concentrating in the classroom. We don't have to look far to see food pantries stretched beyond their means as they try to keep up with the demands of feeding the hungry in their communities. And we don't have to look far to see how often the hungry and undernourished are utilizing our health care systems for hunger and nutrition-related conditions.

    What is new and unique today is the platform through which we hear these stories and experience what these individuals featured in the film are going through. The stories told by the directors, Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush, weave together the heartbreaking history of how we went from almost ending hunger in America in the late 1970s, thanks in large part to the bipartisan cooperation led by Senator George McGovern and Senator Robert Dole, to now more than 50 million hungry in this country--40 years later, 50 million hungry in this country.

    But this isn't just a story of woe, Mr. Speaker. For me, this is also a story of hope and optimism, a story of a difficult struggle, but a struggle fought with dignity. And it is a story that is part of a bigger purpose and goal, and that goal is to end hunger now.

    At its heart, the point of this documentary is that we can end hunger now. And I'm pleased and impressed that a strong, coordinated social action plan accompanies this film.

    This comprehensive plan can be found online at www.takepart.com/ table, and I encourage everyone to take a look at this Web site. Once there, [[Page H1363]] people will be able to find important resources, including ways to access food assistance if they need help; an online gallery of artists, politicians, teachers, writers, and business and community leaders who once needed help through SNAP, the primary Federal antihunger safety program that we have in this country; and also, you see a list of partners who are helping combat hunger through this film. Most importantly, it outlines ways that people can help make hunger a national priority, and it includes specific actions that people can take in their communities.

    Mr. Speaker, we've had a number of strong antihunger partners over the years, but this is the first time in recent memory that there is a dedicated effort to end hunger tied directly to a mainstream film that is nationally garnering critical acclaim.

    The social action plan is based on a simple concept: that people will be moved by individual stories and the facts about hunger documented in this film. When they hear the information, they will want to take action. They will be moved to act in a meaningful way.

    Through this Web site, people can take part in simple actions, like contacting their elected officials or volunteering to work with local organizations that are making a difference in their communities, organizations like FRAC, Feeding America, Share Our Strength, Bread for the World, DC Central Kitchen, AmpleHarvest.org, WhyHunger, and Wholesome Wave, just to name a few of the 30 organizations allied with this film.

    There is also a book, Mr. Speaker, that accompanies the film that is also of the same name, ``A Place at the Table,'' that explains the issue of hunger and goes over the many ways that each of us can end hunger now.

    As I've said over and over again, Mr. Speaker, hunger is a political condition, one that requires action by concerned Americans. Over the past few weeks, we have seen how so many Americans care about this problem and want to be part of the solution to end hunger now.

    And I would, once again, Mr. Speaker, urge the President of the United States to take a leadership role, to organize a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition to devise a plan to end hunger now.

    Mr. Speaker, with partners like those behind ``A Place at the Table,'' along with their social action plan, we can make a real difference. We can end hunger now.

    And it is also my hope, Mr. Speaker, that this Congress will step up to the plate and join in the effort to end hunger now. It is our moral obligation. It is the right thing to do. Now is the time.


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