(House of Representatives - February 14, 2013)

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[Page H507]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                             END HUNGER NOW

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from 
Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) for 5 minutes.
  Mr. McGOVERN. Mr. Speaker, President Obama's State of the Union 
speech was memorable and important for a number of reasons. I'm pleased 
the President talked about gun violence, climate change, voting rights, 
and, of course, jobs and the economy.
  I'm especially pleased that, for the first time in more than a 
decade, the State of the Union had a real focus on poverty and the need 
to help those who economically are the most vulnerable in our Nation.
  Poverty is the root cause of many of our Nation's problems. Those in 
poverty face challenges that middle- and higher-income families simply 
do not have to face. And to be frank, there are too many voices in the 
United States Congress that are silent on this issue.
  So I commend the President for talking about poverty, which we must 
confront and address if we are truly to fulfill our mandate to form a 
more perfect Union.
  One of the most devastating effects of poverty is hunger, and we 
cannot end hunger now if we're not talking about it. This is a big 
problem, and it is a costly problem. This is a problem that is not 
going away unless we act.
  Mr. Speaker, over 50 million people are hungry in America. There are 
more than 50 million people who struggle to put food on their tables. 
Many of these are hardworking people whose jobs just do not pay enough 
to feed their families. Many are jobless, and many are homeless.

                              {time}  1020

  We need to use every opportunity we have to talk about it and to 
shine a light on the plight of the hungry, to take hunger out of the 
shadows and rededicate ourselves to the need to End Hunger Now.
  As I said last week, just because over 50 million people in this 
country struggle to put food on their tables doesn't mean that we have 
mass starvation in America. Thankfully, we have developed a safety net 
that helps protect the vast majority of the hungry. SNAP, or food 
stamps, is one of the most important parts of that safety net.
  There are a myriad of different initiatives being used to combat 
hunger in America. There are public, private, and nonprofit initiatives 
that are all very successful in their own ways. The problem is that 
these efforts--from Federal to State to local governments and from 
nonprofits, like churches and food banks, to for-profit businesses--are 
often working independently of each other. They are not always 
  Mr. Speaker, we need to work smarter and more efficiently if we are 
going to End Hunger Now. We need to bring everyone together and connect 
the dots. We need a plan. That's why I've called for a White House 
Conference on Food and Nutrition. Over the years, there have been 
citywide, countywide, and statewide hunger summits. Food banks, 
hospitals, colleges, and universities have all held these events, but 
there has not been one nationwide hunger summit convened by the White 
House since President Nixon hosted such a summit in 1969--over 44 years 
  We need this conference today more than ever because hunger is 
getting worse in America, not better. Our deficit and our debt are 
forcing us to do more with less, and that means we need to be more 
efficient and streamlined with our resources. Our Federal agencies 
should be talking to each other and addressing hunger in a more 
comprehensive and holistic way.
  Why shouldn't the Departments of Labor, of Health and Human Services, 
of Housing and Urban Development, and, yes, the Department of Defense 
sit down and talk about the impact hunger and nutrition have on their 
efforts and how best they can address this problem?
  As these agencies coordinate, we will need to involve antihunger 
safety net nonprofits, like our food banks, religious institutions, 
schools, and hospitals; and we need to bring in the business community, 
including the food and beverage community, financial institutions and 
manufacturers. We need to bring our doctors and nurses, our teachers 
and pastors, our business leaders and politicians, and, yes, the hungry 
together in one room to develop one plan to End Hunger Now. Then we 
need to agree to implement and execute the plan.
  Mr. Speaker, hunger is a political condition. We have the means and 
the knowledge to End Hunger Now. We just don't have the political will. 
While hunger is a political condition, it should not be a partisan 
issue. A White House Conference on Food and Nutrition is the forum that 
we need to galvanize political will to finally end hunger in America.
  Ending hunger takes bold leadership. It takes Presidential leadership 
because the President is the only one who can call everyone together, 
who can get everyone in the same room and on the same page in order to 
come up with one meaningful and achievable plan. We need the President 
to rise to the occasion and to say that we are going to End Hunger Now.
  Mr. Speaker, I call on the White House to host a Conference on Food 
and Nutrition. I call on the White House to commit to ending hunger in 
America just as they are working to reduce obesity and to improve 
nutrition. I call on the White House to End Hunger Now, and I ask my 
colleagues, Republicans and Democrats, to join in all efforts to End 
Hunger Now. Mr. Speaker, ending hunger now is more than a nice phrase. 
It is something we must do. It is our moral obligation. It is what a 
great country like America should do--End Hunger Now.