Saturday, August 17, 2013

Udall, Heinrich Join 22 Other Senators Calling For Emergency Help To Support Food Banks

There were no members of the U.S. Senate who took the SNAP challenge this year.  Nevertheless, hunger is very much in the minds of a group of 24 senators, who wrote a letter urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tot use existing funds in the Agriculture Department (USDA) budget to expand assistance to food banks via the The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP).  The list included Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich from New Mexico.  They were joined by other prominent members of the Senate, including  Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Robert Casey (D-Pennsylvania), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Susan Collins (R-Maine),

“The need for emergency food assistance has outpaced supply at a time of continued elevated unemployment and underemployment, increased food and fuel costs, and reduced funding for TEFAP storage and distribution, increasing the challenges facing food banks, Thirty-seven million people— one in eight Americans— are now receiving emergency food assistance each year through the nation’s food banks,” the Senators wrote. “With the millions of families across the country continuing to struggle to make ends meet in the wake of the recession, TEFAP commodities are critical to emergency food providers like food banks.”

Our two senators alluded to recent studies from Feeding America and the Annie E. Casey Foundation ranking our state last in terms of food insecurity. “Child hunger is a serious problem facing New Mexico. With the highest rate of child food insecurity in the nation, I'm committed to supporting local food programs that provide healthy meals for children and families in need,” Udall said. "In order to do that, we must ensure our food banks and other programs have the resources to help families through hard times. I look forward to Secretary Vilsack's reply to our request, and I look forward to working with him for New Mexico families."

TEFAP buys food and makes it available to agencies, such as New Mexico’s Human Services Department, which work with the state’s major food banks to distribute to food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

Here is a link to a joint press release issued by Udall's and Heinrich's offices, followed by the text of the letter sent to Secretary Vilsack

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