Today the White House, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) launched a major new initiative focused on hunger. The United We Serve: Feed a Neighbor initiative is designed to raise public awareness of hunger issues and ask Americans to help ensure that our neighbors have access to nutritious food this holiday season and throughout the year. We launched this program today on a conference call with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and acting CNCS CEO Nicola Goren.
There has never been a more critical time to focus on the issue of hunger. A food security report released last Monday by USDA showed that hunger is a serious and growing problem in the United States. For example:
- In 2008, more than 49 million people, including more than 16 million children, were at risk of going hungry in America. This is up from 35 million in 2007.
- An estimated 1.1 million children lived in households that skipped meals and experienced hunger multiple times throughout the year.
- 36 million Americans participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly food stamps. This is a record number of people in the program.
President Obama has made addressing the issue of hunger in America a priority of this Administration. The President has committed to end childhood hunger in this country by 2015, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included funding for an average per family increase of $80 in SNAP benefits.
As the President recently stated, “Hunger is a problem that we can solve together.” In addition to government efforts, non-profits and individuals across the country are addressing hunger in their communities. The families, children and individuals that worry about where their next meal will come from or have to skip a few meals, might live next door to any of us – so we all have a role to play.
Through the “Feed a Neighbor” initiative we’ve created new resources for communities to fight hunger:
- Serve.gov allows visitors to search for local volunteer opportunities to serve those in need.
- CNCS and the USDA have prepared a toolkit for organizations that want to address hunger in their communities. This toolkit outlines a wide variety of opportunities and resources that can help ordinary people fight hunger across the country.
- You can also visit the new web site at www.usda.gov/partnerships to learn how you can help end hunger in your own community.
Additional resources about the Feed A Neighbor initiative are available on Serve.gov, such as factsheets, updates, and stories of service.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. In this important time of giving thanks and sharing with families, let’s all remember those less fortunate and work together to help end hunger in America.
Joshua DuBois is the Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships