Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Obama Administration Steps Up Effort to End Childhood Hunger

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

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Yesterday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was supposed to speak at the National Press Club to lay out President Obama’s priorities with regard to the Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation that plays such an important role in the goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015.

The snowstorm caused Vilsack to cancel but he did release his remarks to news organizations, which included these comments:

“Ask any teacher how students who fail to eat a healthy breakfast or lunch perform in class,” Vilsack said in excerpts obtained by Politics Daily. “Hungry kids don’t learn as well. . . . If we want and need our children fully prepared for a competitive world we cannot afford for them to be hungry.” Even classmates can be affected, he said, when undernourished kids fail to compete and challenge in classrooms and playgrounds.”

Share Our Strength did ask teachers about this, in the first and more comprehensive survey of how public school teachers deal with hunger in their classroom. The complete survey is posted on Share Our Strength website @ http://www.strength.org/.

Vilsack also outlines 8 priority ingredients to their strategy including this first which closely parallels Share Our Strength’s strategy of state-based collaborations to improve access to food and nutrition programs for hungry children:

“Improving access to the school nutrition programs must be a priority. States and local communities need be fully engaged as partners in our efforts to identify innovative strategies to ending child hunger. We cannot rest while so many of our young children struggle with access to food, which is why I’m calling on Congress to provide tools to increase participation, streamline applications, and eliminate gap periods. Another strategy for getting more children into the programs should be simplifying the application process through increased direct certification. If a child already qualifies for other assistance programs there is no reason why the parents of that child need to be bothered filling out one more application to qualify for school breakfast or lunch. Bonus payments should be offered to schools that effectively reach out to children who currently qualify but who are not participation.”

All 8 points can be found in a press report at: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/02/09/michelle-obama-kicks-off-anti-obesity-drive-in-oval-office-event/

Billy