U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano, Democrat of New York, introduced H.R. 208, Anti-Hunger Empowerment Act of 2013 to Congress on Jan. 4. The bill in many ways would reduce the number of individuals throughout the United States who are hungry and food insecure.
So why has this bill been re-introduced several times, each time failing to pass in Congress? It could be assumed that many legislators are unaware of how many people in the United States are struggling with food insecurity and hunger and the seriousness of the effects that hunger has on all.
There are more than 50 million Americans who are food insecure or hungry, and more than 15 million of those Americans are children.
One in six Kitsap County residents are unsure of where their next meal will come from. Kitsap County has eight food banks, which struggle to help the many individuals who are hungry in our community.
According to Food Lifeline, part of the Feeding America network of food banks, more than 44,000 Kitsap County residents visited food banks last year; these individuals visited the food banks 250,000 times. The need for food banks and emergency nutrition assistance agencies is increasing while funding for these organizations are decreasing.
Enacting the Anti-Hunger Empowerment Act of 2013 will provide greater access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provide more grant availability to food banks and other feeding agencies, and implement pilot programs that reduce hunger and poverty in target populations.
Enacting this bill is important in reducing food insecurity and hunger in Kitsap County and the United States on a whole.
Hunger has devastating affects on the individual’s present and future health.
Pregnant women are unable to provide the necessary nutrients to their growing child, which may result in premature birth and birth defects. Children are unable to receive the proper nutrients for healthy growth, which may result in learning disabilities, behavioral difficulties and overall poorer health. The elderly may be more at risk for health issues due to their more fragile state; they may be more prone to heart attacks, diabetes and other life altering health issues.
The effects of hunger are serious issues that need to be dealt with.
If this bill received more attention and support, our policy makers may show more interest and intention in supporting this bill. As of now, few of our policy members are aware that such the bill is sitting with Congress right now.
If this bill can gather support from policy makers on a state level, our national policy makers may show more intent in enacting this bill. This bill needs more support and attention in order for it to be enacted, as of right now; policy makers don’t believe this issue to be of top concern.
Hunger and food insecurity issues are hidden and those who are not affected by hunger choose to ignore that it is in fact an important issue.
We as a community need to ensure that our neighbors are not suffering from hunger. It is in our hands to bring the seriousness of hunger and the importance of enacting H.R. 208 to the attention of our policy makers.
Bridget Dillinger is a student at University of Southern California in the online Masters in Social Work program. She grew up in Portland and currently lives in Gig Harbor.