[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 70 (Tuesday, June 6, 2006)]
[Page S5486]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, today is National Hunger Awareness Day, 
and it is an opportunity for all of us to pledge a greater effort to 
deal more effectively with this festering problem that shames our 
Nation and has become even more serious in recent years. Surely we can 
all do more to care for neighbors and fellow citizens who fall on hard 
  The number of Americans living in hunger or on the brink of hunger 
now totals 38 million--5 million more than when President Bush took 
office. That total includes almost 14 million children, 972,000 more 
since 2000.
  America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest network of emergency 
food providers, recently conducted a series of interviews with its 
clients, and the report is astounding. Its emergency food providers 
serve 4.5 million different people a week--and 24 to 27 million people 
a year.
  Over 36 percent of its clients are children under 18 years old, and 
10 percent are elderly. Another 36 percent of its clients live in 
households with at least one employed adult.
  These statistics are shameful. Our Nation's neediest individuals 
should not be forced to choose between paying for food and paying the 
rent or paying for medicine.
  In Massachusetts, the Greater Boston Food Bank serves over 320,000 
people a year--34 percent of them are under 18. All of us in the 
Commonwealth are grateful that we have food providers like the Greater 
Boston Food Bank, but they should not have to wage the battle alone. 
Government can't stand idle in the face of this great tragedy. We have 
programs in place to fight hunger, but they continue to be underfunded 
and underused.
  Day in and day out, the needs of millions of Americans living in 
hunger are ignored, and too often their voices have been silenced. 
Their battle is a constant ongoing struggle. It undermines their 
productivity, their earning power, and their health. It keeps their 
children from concentrating and learning in school. We all need to do 
more to combat it. Government, corporations, communities, and citizens 
must work together to develop better policies and faster responses.
  In 1996, the Clinton administration pledged to begin an effort to cut 
hunger in half in the United States by 2010, and the strong economy 
enabled us to make significant progress toward that goal. Hunger 
decreased steadily through 2000. We now have 4 years left to fulfill 
that commitment.
  The fastest, most direct way to reduce hunger in the Nation is to 
improve and expand current Federal nutrition programs. Sadly, the 
current administration proposes to change proven and effective programs 
such as food stamps and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for 
Women, Infants, and Children. The administration also proposes to 
eliminate the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides 
modest food packages to low-income seniors and to mothers with children 
up to age 6.
  It is time to do more for the most vulnerable in our society. 
National Hunger Awareness Day is our chance to pledge to eradicate 
hunger in America--and to mean it when we say it.