Farm bill needed to help hungry residents

Posted: Monday, December 03, 2007

As most Americans prepared for Thanksgiving, 35 million Americans, including over 83,000 individuals in Alaska, struggled to put food on their tables and food bank inventories nationwide were scarce.

Meanwhile, the Senate stalled debate on a farm bill that could bring much needed hope to food banks and hungry Americans.

Food banks are suffering as a result of a more than 70 percent decline in support from a federal food aid program in recent years. Strong agricultural markets have led to drastic reductions in food purchased and distributed by the federal government.

Every day that goes by without a farm bill enacted is a day that shelves continue to go empty. The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank and the over 1,500 people that we directly serve need a farm bill this year that provides increased funding for the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and strengthens the Food Stamp Program.

Specifically, we need at least $250 million a year in mandatory funding for TEFAP, with the amount indexed for inflation to ensure that we can continue meeting the increased need for emergency food assistance in the central peninsula area.

The House of Representatives passed its version of a farm bill in July that would provide more than $4 billion in new investment in federal nutrition programs. The Senate was expected to resume debate on its version of the bill following the Thanksgiving recess.

Hunger is a solvable problem, but the charitable sector cannot do it alone. Government commodities are among the most nutritious and needed food products that we distribute. Please contact Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens today and urge them to pass a farm bill and bring home a victory for our hungry neighbors on the Kenai Peninsula.

Linda Swarner

Executive director

and the board of directors

Kenai Peninsula Food Bank

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