USDA boss says new focus is on hunger

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says a new report puts a spotlight on the nation’s hunger problems.
“I think this report suggests that it is time for America to get very serious about food security and hunger, about nutrition and about food safety,” Vilsack says. “This, together with several other reports that have been issued in the last couple of weeks by the U.S.D.A., are a wake-up call for America.”
Over 14-and-a-half percent of American households were unable to put “adequate food” on their tables in 2008 according to a survey released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Vilsack says too many Americans are “challenged” — sometimes every day — in getting enough food and many “go days” without eating.
“As many American families begin to make preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday it is time for us to remember that, unfortunately, 49-million Americans may not be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in the way they ought to be able to it,” Vilsack says. According to the survey, Americans in about a half a million households are going without food for extended periods.
The report concludes just over 11-and-a-half percent of Iowa households are “food insecure” which means a few go without food for a day, while many others eat food that’s cheaper and has lower nutritional value to get by. Secretary Vilsack says all the statistics highlight the need for federal programs which provide a free or reduced-price school lunch or breakfast at school to poor American kids.
“It is also, I think, important for states to be sensitive to the need for continued assistance both either from the public sector or from the private sector, of non-profit efforts at food banks to provide adequate resources,” Vilsack says. The U.S.D.A.’s Economic Research Service has been conducting a “food security” survey since 1995 and this is the highest level of food “insecurity” ever recorded.
The report’s flip side: 85 percent of American households “had access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members.” Vilsack served as Iowa’s governor for eight years. He’s been serving as President Obama’s ag secretary for almost 11 months.
See the full report