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Chairman Scott Opening Statement: A Look at Food Insecurity in America

WASHINGTON- House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott delivered the following statement at today's hearing entitled: "A Look at Food Insecurity in America":

[As prepared for delivery]

Good morning and thank you to everyone for coming a little early today so we have ample time to discuss today’s very important topic, which is hunger, and food insecurity.

We all know from our own experience how disruptive the pandemic has been to our daily lives. Well imagine these hassles magnified multiple times.

Imagine being without a paycheck, without a car and fearful of public transportation. Imagine trying to feed your kids adequately, plus teach them at home and pay the bills, and keep looking for a job, all while worried that you may not make next month’s rent.

These are some of the special difficulties low-income families have been facing this past year.

Fortunately, Congress has responded with critical COVID legislation like Families First, CARES, provisions in the Omnibus we passed in December and yesterday’s historic passage of the American Rescue Plan.

I am certain some of the modifications and increases that were included in those bills made a difference to families in need. In my district, I know it saved some lives even as many other lives were lost.

But where are we now? We continue to see lines of cars waiting hours to pick up a box of food. We see video footage of children saying they are just plain hungry. And, even if we see a light at the end of the tunnel as vaccination rates increase, we know SNAP enrollments are way up, and food banks continue to be flooded with people who have never before had to seek help.

Let’s look at the numbers: Prior to the pandemic, in February of 2020, there were 36.8 million people on SNAP. By April of 2020, SNAP rolls were up to 40 million people and that increased to nearly 43 million people by September of last year.

What can we anticipate in the future? The Congressional Budget Office in February released their Baseline Projections for the next 10 years for SNAP. They predict that the negative effects of the pandemic will continue through most of 2022, with an average total of 44 million people on SNAP next year, before it begins to decrease in 2023.

So, even if this virus disappears, we are going to be living with its aftermath for some time. We need to be realistic about this and continue to work to shore up the people who are counting on us to help them through this crisis.

Just like a hurricane, a tornado, a flood or an earthquake, we are dealing with a natural disaster that demands we come together for a real solution to hunger.

This is our responsibility and we are going to need help.

And today, we have help in form of these fine witnesses all of whom are experts in some aspect of feeding people.

We thank each of you for your time and expertise in joining us today and look forward to hearing your experiences with what you are seeing in your communities that will assist us as we look at another year of increased food insecurity due to the pandemic.

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