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Rosa D.
Democrat CT 3

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  • Hunger in America

    by Representative Rosa L. DeLauro

    Posted on 2016-03-01

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    DeLAURO. I thank the gentleman, and I thank my colleagues. I am so proud to join with you tonight And to Congressman McGovern, your unrelenting efforts to address the issue of ending hunger and doing it now, you have been singularly an individual who has never missed a beat in trying to address this issue and bring it to the floor and the public.

    And to my colleague from Virginia, who has taken his platform of the Education and the Workforce Committee and have had a focus on how, in fact, we improve the opportunities for our children and whether it is their health or their education, he is at the forefront.

    I see we have been joined by Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, someone who can talk about her own deep personal experiences with hunger and with the food stamp program and what it means to be able to work your way out of these efforts. She has done it to a fare-thee- well.

    Mr. Speaker, over 50 million people--nearly one in four--live in hunger in the United States. Don't ever let anybody use the terminology ``food security.'' It is plain and simple hunger.

    Kids are hungry in the United States of America. Hunger exists in virtually every community in this country. Social safety net programs are vital tools for reducing the prevalence of poverty and hunger.

    The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, SNAP--food stamps, yes--is one of the most powerful programs that we have for ending childhood hunger in the United States. It helps millions of hardworking American families every year.

    SNAP works for those who need it most. It has been incredibly successful in alleviating hunger, lifting people out of poverty, and supporting our economy.

    SNAP continues to do more than any other government assistance program to lift Americans out of poverty. The numbers speak for themselves.

    In 2014 alone, the program lifted 4.7 million people out of poverty, including 2.1 million children. SNAP also lifted more than 1.3 million children out of deep poverty. What is deep poverty? It is 50 percent of what the poverty line is in this Nation.

    The program impacts children well beyond their childhood years. Research shows that, among children who grow up in disadvantaged households with access to SNAP, there is an 18 percentage point increase in the likelihood of completing high school.

    There has also been evidence of significant improvements in overall health and economic self-sufficiency among women.

    SNAP is an extremely efficient program. More than half of all of the benefits go to households in deepest poverty, and over 70 percent of all benefits go to households with children.

    Despite what some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle would say about fraud, waste, and abuse, the food stamp program has the lowest error rate of any Federal Government program, the lowest error rate.

    Based on this anecdote that it is rife with fraud, waste, and abuse, they would deny children food. The data speaks loud and clear about the lowest error rate of any Federal program.

    Of course, it is not just children. SNAP helps millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, low-wage workers, and others.

    However, Speaker Ryan and other Republican House Members say that we spend trillions of dollars on these programs and, yet, the poverty rate does not change. This is simply not true.

    I talked about the statistics earlier on in my comments. Without these critical safety net programs, more Americans would go hungry. As we have said, SNAP kept about 4.8 million people out of poverty, including 2.1 million children.

    The data belies what their conversation is and the stories they want to tell and, quite frankly, fabricate around the food stamp program.

    The Republican proposals for SNAP include a push to enact block grants, which my colleague, Mr. McGovern, mentioned before, an idea that Jared Bernstein, former chief economist to Vice President Biden called ``one of the most destructive ideas in poverty policy.'' Let me mention some of the statistics that have been compiled by Children's Health Watch in Boston, Massachusetts.

    If the SNAP benefits were reduced either through block granting or some other mechanism to reduce food stamp benefits so as to create instability in these households, this is what they say would be likely to occur: 23 percent would be more likely to have households that are food insecure; 70 percent [[Page H1081]] more likely children would be food insecure; 36 percent more likely to be in poor health if this happens; 70 percent more likely to be at risk for developmental delays--this is about our kids, about our children-- 12 percent more likely to be hospitalized; children in kindergarten through third grade would be more likely to have measurably lower reading and math test scores; and reduced SNAP benefits would decrease the likelihood of mothers having a baby with a healthy weight and of a low-birth-weight baby surviving.

    This is not Jim McGovern or Gwen Moore or Bobby Scott or Rosa DeLauro making up these statistics. They come from an organization which tracks all of these measures.

    {time} 1630 My colleagues, it would include drug testing policies for SNAP recipients and prohibitions for certain food purchases.

    What kind of priorities are these? We can't continue to wage a war against food stamp recipients. Nobody is asking for any other recipients who get Federal subsidies to be drug tested. Let's start with the Crop Insurance people. Let's start with that. Let's take all of the programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture where there is a subsidy and a recipient to that subsidy. Let's get them all drug tested.

    We are going to continue to stand up against unconscionable attacks on America's poor working families. I urge my colleagues to stand with us in ensuring that the Federal budget does not harm working families and children by decimating the hunger programs in this Nation.

    Mr. McGOVERN. I thank the gentlewoman for her eloquent statement.

    Mr. Speaker, I yield to my colleague from Wisconsin (Ms. Moore).

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