Hunger is a national problem demanding a national response, and I believe it is the government’s responsibility, not the responsibility of a charity, to guarantee every child in America access to a healthy school lunch, to provide all seniors a nutritious dinner and to help struggling Americans get back on their feet by relieving the stress of wondering where their next meal will come from.
Congress can do this by strengthening the programs that exist, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
These very programs, however, have come under fire amid the farm bill debate. House Democrats and Republicans have proposed $4 billion and $39 billion in SNAP benefit cuts, respectively. Meals on Wheels and WIC saw dramatic cuts during government sequestration.
For many Americans, including many Iowans, the effect of the recession still lingers. Recently, the Linn County Community Food Bank reported the daily average number of patrons served increased following the Nov. 1 SNAP reductions. This “new normal” is raising concerns for food banks.
Food banks are bridging the hunger gap, but the ultimate responsibility to end hunger lies with our elected officials. It is up to us to make sure they know the needs of their districts, including the need for increased support in the fight against hunger. We cannot be timid; we must be heard. Ending hunger in America is a lofty goal, but one we must not give up.