Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear President-elect Obama: Yes, We Can End Hunger in the United States

On Tuesday, January 20, 2009, President-elect Obama will officially inherit a host of domestic and international problems – including the fact that over 36 million Americans live in households that are unable to afford enough food.

The on-going problem of hunger in the United States is in large part due to a lack of political will. In order to reduce domestic hunger and poverty, the government must both take immediate actions and also work to enact long-term solutions.

Joel Berg, the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, sent President-elect Obama several memos which outline concrete and realistic strategies for the administration to work to end hunger. Recalling that President John F. Kennedy’s very first action as President was to sign an executive order implementing a pilot Food Stamps Program, Berg outlines immediate administrative actions that the new administration could take to make significant progress from the beginning.

In his campaign, Obama pledged to end child hunger by 2015 as a down payment on ending all domestic hunger. Berg provides several ideas for how Obama can make good on this promise, especially by supporting a strong economic stimulus bill as proposed by Representative James McGovern and many other members of Congress and by supporting a strong Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Bill.

In addition to proposing ways in which the Obama administration can better utilize AmeriCorps Members and Non-Profit groups, Berg explains how Obama’s administration can improve the Serve America Act (S. 3487), supported by Senators Kennedy and Hatch) to expand national service and volunteerism efforts.

Finally, Berg also suggests various communication strategies that will help the Obama/Biden administration fight hunger by decreasing stigma and increasing public support for and participation in federal programs.

By following Berg’s suggestions – articulated both in these memos and in his recent book All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? – the Obama/Biden Administration can immediately work to reduce hunger and begin to implement the long-term policies and programs that are needed to end it.

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