McGovern: It's Time For Obama To Step Up On Hunger

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U.S. Rep. James McGovern plants a tomato seedling during a visit to Grafton's Community Harvest Project, which supplies produce to local food pantries.
U.S. Rep. James McGovern plants a tomato seedling during a visit to Grafton's Community Harvest Project, which supplies produce to local food pantries. Photo Credit: Jennifer Lord Paluzzi (file photo)

WORCESTER, Mass. - Hunger isn’t a new concept and it isn’t a new problem. We’ve been fighting hunger for a long time and, while we’ve made real strides in recent decades, we haven’t ended hunger.

We know that hunger transcends age, race, and gender. In the most difficult times, like those we’re slowly recovering from today, even the middle class is not immune from hunger.

Today’s face of hunger isn’t the one we’re used to seeing. Most people still think of sunken eyes and swollen bellies, of poor children in a far-off African country. They don’t think of an overweight or obese neighbor; they don’t think of a chronically ill senior citizen or an underachieving student in their neighborhood school.

But those are the faces of hunger in the 21st century. That’s because hunger forces people to do what they can with less. More than 50 million people in the United States live in families that struggle to put food on the table, including nearly 17 million children. Food insecure families often make difficult choices between important necessities, like choosing between paying for food, medical care, transportation, or utilities. Low-income families are forced to buy low-cost, low-nutrient, high-calorie, nutrient-deficient food. Hunger impacts a family’s ability to maintain good health, access to employment, and it impacts a child’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school.

And it’s not as if we don’t have the food, resources or knowledge to end hunger in America. We do. We know how to get the job done. It’s not a lack of food. It’s not a lack of money or know-how. It’s simply a lack of political will. Hunger is, in the end, a political condition.

That’s why I have called for a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition. It’s simple. We need the President to seize this issue. We need the President to stand up and say this is a national priority, one that we will tackle sooner rather than later.

I’m grateful for the work the First Lady has done on nutrition and healthy eating. We are learning more and more about healthy food and fitness in large part because of her efforts. But we do a disservice to that effort if we don’t address hunger at the same time.

This is the time for real leadership – Presidential leadership – on this issue. Only the President can knock down the bureaucratic walls that prevent different agencies from working together. Only the President can bring together the various leaders of industry, academia, social entrepreneurship and public policy. Only the President can stand up and say hunger is a national issue; an issue that we can and will solve.

I was privileged to be the person to announce then-candidate Obama’s pledge to end childhood hunger by 2015 during the 2008 campaign. I flew to Iowa to make that announcement and I believed it was possible to achieve that goal.

Unfortunately, we’re not going to end childhood hunger by 2015 – at least not at this rate. But it doesn’t mean we should hide from that pledge. This is a seminal moment in our fight to eradicate hunger in America. A White House Conference on Food and Nutrition that convenes public and private sector leaders at the local, state, and national level, harnessing the energy, innovation, and resources necessary to end hunger would elevate the issue for all Americans. If the White House agrees to host a meaningful Conference on Food and Nutrition, one where there we develop benchmarks and goals, one that gives everyone an achievable assignment, one that fully addresses hunger across all ages, then we will have truly achieved something worth celebrating.

President Richard Nixon hosted the first, and so far only, White House Conference on Food, Nutrition, and Health in 1969. Under his leadership, Food Stamps – now SNAP—were modernized, WIC was created and we made giant strides in working to end hunger.  We made real progress – and now we must go further.

I want President Obama to be the President who ends hunger. He can be the President that makes our nation healthier through better eating and by making sure everyone has access to nutritious food. And it starts with a White House Conference on Food and Nutrition.

We are the richest, most powerful nation on Earth. It is a national disgrace that so many of our fellow citizens are hungry. It is a moral failure and one that costs us dearly – from affordable health care costs to children who don’t learn in school.

It’s time to act boldly. We can end hunger.

U.S. Rep. James McGovern currently represents the Third Congressional District in Massachusetts. He will represent the Second Congressional District, due to redistricting, after Jan. 3, 2013.

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Comments (18)


By golly you did get that anti-Obama anecdote from FOX! They aired a segment on O'Reilly where his hatchet man was sent to Hawaii to "expose" the president's upbringing as a lazy kid with a big Afro who was always talking about Kenya. He asked random people, particularly girls in bikinis on the beach. Truly frightening. What a bombshell of investigative journalism.

You forgot to wish everyone a Happy Festivus tomorrow! You might enjoy it, especially the traditional "Airing of Grievances" where you get to tell the world how disappointed you are, especially with people who try to end hunger. Bah, humbug to that, since we're all going to starve anyway. Because of the government or something.


My apologies for omitting Festivus. My outlet for grievances are usually aired here in these spaces as I seek the opinions of the townspeople such as yourself. Did you actually see this segment? I am a channel surfer and I watch a bunch of left leaning and right leaning shows for entertainment purposes only. By the way, that 27 yr. old girl vacationing in Hawaii really looked like she was starving. She needed all the food stamps that she should get. Maybe I can draw you out of your shell or take down your guard to share where I am going wrong in my thought. You maybe right and I may be completely wrong. All the Best.

Hey Harpoon, we ARE the richest country in the world, but we just faught two wars on a credit card. Even ONE cruise missile could buy a lot of tomato plants.

How do you define rich? China owns us. When are you going to give Obama any of the blame? Obama doubled Bush's 8yrs deficit in four years. I am not thrilled with any party and I am disgusted with government stealing our money and wasting it. Making us pay more for items when they trash they trash our value of our currency. I know John B. is a proponent of this but it is like your trickle down argument. I am not seeing the benefit in the economy.

What you did not invest in the stock market?

From the web: Source.

Stocks have had a great run in Obama's term
One can argue over how big a role the administration played in the huge market rally since March 2009. Gains for, say, Apple, Caterpillar and others are really due to management skill. But Obama did provide one crucial element to the recovery.
By Charley Blaine Nov 5, 2012
For all of the complaints of the business community about Barack Obama, they can't complain much about what his administration and the Federal Reserve have done for the stock market.

The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU -0.91%) are up 58.3% since he took office. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX -0.94%) is up 66.7%. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX -0.96%) is up 96.1%. The Russell 2000 Index ($RUT -0.54%) is up 75.7%.

Dear John,

I am a trader in all and follow all the economic news on a daily basis. Do you really think the Government is going to let the stock market go down in a reelection year? This almost never happens. Do you ever ask the question why has gold gone up from $250 an ounce to a recent high of $1900 an ounce? There maybe a little message in there that our dollar may be in a little more trouble than you think. Did you ever ask the question why our Government changed the Accounting FASB rules? This allows for Banks to carry the original cost of properties on their balance sheet rather than the market value. Do you wonder what the balance sheets would look like if it was market value. Do you wonder what the stock market would look like if interest rates were raised to around 5%? Putting your money in cash would have lost you around 3% in the last two years with inflation (something like that).

Anyway, John, thanks for the info. We all do what we have to do to survive in this life. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year..

Too bad George Bush did not do increase the stock market in an election year. Then John McCain would have been president.

An inflation rate of 3% over 2 years. I looked at the historical data. This rate is LOWER then ANY annual rate during years of the Reagan Presidency.

That Kenyan born muslin president is so incompetent that he can not even wreck the economy. (Snicker)

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.

Yes Obama needs to stop hunger. Please, 47million on welfare as compared to 20 million only a few years ago. They aren't spending it on food and certainly not healthy food. Macaroni and poptarts. Not good.

There was an amusing segment last night where they were interviewing this twentysoming white girl who was VACATIONING in Hawaii. She was asked who she voted for and why. She said that she voted for Obama because she needed to keep her foodstamps.

On FOX maybe? Evidence? Context?

C'mon....Give us another anti-Obama anecdote. You know you've got one.

Maxi, I knew I could not slip this one by you. No matter where it came from, the point is the point. Do you think MSNBC would ever say something negative about a Democratic program? Why is it an Anti-Obama anecdote? Does he deserve all the credit? I would like to give credit to all of Government for doing such a bang up job of screwing everyone in this country. Politicians are ranked just above used car salesmen. None of these guys are my heros.

"No matter where it came from, the point is the point." Whee! An anecdote from the fact-free zone, or the Twilight Zone, or who cares as long as it slams the president.

Wait, that wasn't an anti-Obama anecdote? Well gosh darn it, you coulda fooled me.

Congratulations. You hate government.

Hey Max, I know what your saying and I am sure you are not deaf to all the examples of the new transformation. It sounds like you are a committed liberal. You know I talk to a lot of liberals on this sight, it would be great to hear of some of your ideas and may be you can straighten my thinking out. Especially your comment that you congratulated me that I hate Government. Does that mean you love Government? I could have some very good reasons why I feel this way. You could point out to me where I may be wrong. Who knows. Unfortunately you remind me of little me being irritated by the detail of where I got the newsclip. Believe me, life is too short to be too high strung. If it helps to let me have it, than I do not mind your wrath. I invite all ideas whether I agree or disagree. I am not here to change people. I hope you have a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.

There is NO inflation in this economy. There has not been a general rise in the prices of goods and services.
A devalued dollar makes American goods easier to sell overseas and makes imports more difficult to sell. There by increasing business growth in the USA as consumers shift their spending.
I am still waiting for the list of the specific budget items that the GOP is going to cut. How about the projects in their home districts. Red states lead the way. Show that Austerity expansion can work. Show that cutting government spending will create economic growth.
Let's look that the booming economics where the government has slashed spending and how this has boosted the economy.

The success stories are :______________________ (That's right it does not work)

Where governments have slashed spending: Greece, Spain, England.

John, This is cost push inflation. The main sources of this is wage increase and increases in raw materials. These sources of a decrease in aggregate supply operate by increasing costs. All our natural resources are steadily going up such as metals, wheat, corn, sugar, cocoe, etc...

The government has done QE1, QE2, QE3, what has it done for demand. We are still at 8% unemployment. The QE program is just printing money out of nothing. We are buying are own Treasury bonds to finance the trillions in spending that are government is doing. Why has it not worked?

We are heading for 22 Trillion dollars in debt by the time the Obama term is up.

I will give you a success story, Iceland, There currency went under and they protected the people of Iceland's deposits. They did not want to be held hostage by the central banks. The took a hit for 2 years and now they are on a stable financial ground with an improving economy.

With your thought process, what did you think happened during the Weimar Republic, the French Revolutions, American Civil War and the Green backs, and the 400 currencies that went under in history. They are doing the same exact thing we are doing.

Greece, Spain, England: Where governments allowed the abuses of elaborate pensions, early retirement ages, entitlements that can never be paid for. All the spending in these countries will not correct their economies.

Your examples of an currency going 80 years ago to over 200. Banking has changed a lot since then.

Your conclusion about Iceland's economy is uninformed. Iceland protected their population deposits by nationalization the Glitnir bank.

Why has Iceland recovered? From the Wikipedia article. Notice the lack of praise for the severe budget cuts tied with an increase in taxes.

Iceland's financial position has steadily improved since the crash. The economic contraction and rise in unemployment appear to have been arrested by late 2010 and with growth under way in mid 2011.[191] Three main factors have been important in this regard. First is the emergency legislation passed by the Icelandic parliament in October 2008. It served to minimise the impact of the financial crisis on the country. The Financial Supervisory Authority of Iceland used permission granted by the emergency legislation to take over the domestic operations of the three largest banks.[192] The much larger foreign operations of the banks, however, went into receivership.
A second important factor is the success of the IMF Stand-By-Arrangement in the country since November 2008. The SBA includes three pillars. The first pillar is a program of medium term fiscal consolidation, involving painful austerity measures and significant tax hikes. The result has been that central government debts have been stabilised at around 80–90 percent of GDP. A second pillar is the resurrection of a viable but sharply downsized domestic banking system on the ruins of its gargantuan international banking system which the government was unable to bail out. A third pillar is the enactment of capital controls and the work to gradually lift these to restore normal financial linkages with the outside world. An important result of the emergency legislation and the SBA is that the country has not been seriously affected by the European sovereign debt crisis from 2010. Despite a contentious debate with Britain and the Netherlands over the question of a state guarantee on the Icesave deposits of Landsbanki in these countries, credit default swaps on Icelandic sovereign debt have steadily declined from over 1000 points prior to the crash in 2008 to around 200 points in June 2011. The fact that the assets of the failed Landsbanki branches are now estimated to cover most of the depositor claims has had an influence to ease concerns over the situation.
Finally, the third major factor behind the resolution of the financial crisis was the decision by the government of Iceland to apply for membership in the EU in July 2009. While views on the feasibility of EU membership are quite mixed in Iceland, this action has served to enhance the credibility of the country on international financial markets. One sign of the success of the above efforts is the fact that the Icelandic government was successfully able to raise $1 billion with a bond issue on 9 June 2011. This development indicates that international investors have given the government and the new banking system, with two of the three biggest banks now in foreign hands, a clean bill of health.[193][194] The first two major measures were implemented by the government of Geir H. Haarde but also carried out by the government of Johanna Sigurdardottir, which then took the step to apply for EU membership.
By mid-2012 Iceland is regarded as one of Europe's recovery success stories. It has had two years of economic growth. Unemployment is down to 6.3% and Iceland is attracting immigrants to fill jobs. Currency devaluation has effectively reduced wages by 50% making exports more competitive and imports more expensive. Ten year government bonds are issued below 6%, lower than some of the PIIGS nations in the EU. Tryggvi Thor Herbertsson, a member of parliament, notes that adjustments via currency devaluations are less painful than government labor policies and negotiations. Nevertheless, while EU fervor has cooled the government continues to pursue membership.[195]

John, First off, thanks for sending this info. I appreciate the detail that you bring to these discussions. I guess I deem these actions a success because I am not a fan of the IMF or any of the Central Banks. I believe that many financial problems with our countries and financial institutions are caused by unregulated derivative contracts basically betting on the demise of countries and institutions. I look at Iceland's move as keeping their independence from the World Banks. Yes they were shunned, threatened. They also took their pain of extreme Austerity and lost all their food imports for a while but they are back on their feet and are starting to get in the good graces of their European neighbors. The historical perspective of this by the press will pit this as very negative to Iceland but the people who believe in independence from the World Banks believe what they did was the way to go.

If you compare this situation with Greece, my opinion would be that Iceland would be the way, even though painful, to go. There is hope there. Greece has no hope and people are starving. The amount of suicides are extremely high.

John, Thanks again for the detail.

"We are the richest, most powerful nation on Earth" says Rep. McGovern. We have over a Trillion a year deficit in the annual budget and we are on the road to a plus $8 trillion added to our National Debt in the next 4 years. You should stop the bleeding of the outrageous spending which is devaluing our dollar and taking purchasing power away from the people. This is how the Government is starving it's own people with the inflation. We are not the richest nation in the world, we are probably the biggest debtor nation in the world.

I know I will take some grief for these comments but this article is full of fluff with no ideas what so ever. We are better off funding local farms and developing our own year round vegetables using the hypotopic methods to provide our own food supply. This would be much better than funneling millions of dollars to Congressman McGovern's pipe dream. He should work on getting government under control. If our dollar crashes, we will not have food on the grocery shelves and they government will be the reason why we all are starving.