Subcommittee Reviews the Cost of Hunger in America

Jul 23, 2008

WASHINGTON - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry held a hearing to review the short- and long-term costs of hunger in the United States.  Congressman Joe Baca of California is Chairman of the Subcommittee.

“Hunger in America is all too real a problem that affects not only the health of the more than 35 million Americans classified as food insecure, but also the health of our local economies and communities,” Baca said. “With the total cost of hunger to be estimated at $90 billion annually, we must be pro-active in searching for a solution.  Especially with today’s rising food and energy costs, America’s children and families cannot wait any longer for vital nutrition assistance.”

“As a surgeon, I understand how important a healthy lifestyle can be in avoiding illness and living a more active, and productive life,” said Subcommittee Ranking Member Charles Boustany, Jr. of Louisiana.  “Furthermore, I know first-hand how important a person’s eating habits can be in determining how well they will recover from a surgery or other medical procedures and treatments.  Today’s hearing highlighted the significant steps we made to end hunger while outlining the work remaining.”

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, almost 11% of households in the United States are food insecure – meaning they often have problems accessing food, or maintaining a varied diet.  Of those households, 4.6 million families reported multiple instances of disrupted eating patterns and reduced food intake during the year because they did not have enough resources to purchase food.

The Subcommittee heard testimony from medical doctors, researchers and advocates on the ways in which the effects of hunger spill over into other areas of society and government policy.   

 A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website at a later date.

Witness List:

Panel I

  • Dr. Mark Nord, Sociologist, Economic Research Service, USDA, Washington, D.C.
    • Accompanied by Mr. Steven Carlson, Director, Office of Research and Analysis, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
  • Dr. J. Larry Brown, Harvard University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
    • Accompanied by Dr. Donald S. Shepard, Economist, Schneider Institutes for Health Policy, Heller School, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
  • Dr. Diana Cutts, Principal Investigator, Children's Sentinel Nutrition Assessment Program (C-SNAP), Faculty Physician, Hennepin County Medical Center, Assistant Professor Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
  • Mr. George Manalo-LeClair, Senior Director of Legislation, California Food Policy Advocates, Oakland, CA
  • Mr. James D. Weill, President, Food Research and Action Center, Washington, D.C.