As families come together to enjoy Thanksgiving this week, we pause to consider the joy of our dinners with family and friends. Unfortunately too many families in Madison and across the country, are struggling, not able to put food on the table every morning, every afternoon and every night. A staggering 14%, or 44 million Americans are labeled as “food insecure.” Roughly half of all our children in the Madison Metropolitan School District are eligible for free or reduced lunch.
For many kids, on the weekends and during vacations, no school, no lunch.
A critical way to address hunger and health issues related to food consumption is through important investments focused on improving our local and regional food systems. The U.S. Department of Agriculture continues to support these systems through over 20 different programs. In Wisconsin alone, 31 projects related to the local food system are funded through these USDA programs. However, these USDA programs cannot continue without comprehensive food and farm legislation. Constant deadlock within the U.S. Congress continues to hinder movement towards an expedited five-year bill.
The Farm Bill is critical if we are to combat hunger and food insecurity. A strong food and farm bill is essential to developing strong local and regional food systems that deliver fresher, healthier food to our tables. It also strengthens our local economies in terms of economic sustainability and job creation. The Farm Bill also reauthorizes the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. Over 45 million Americans depend on this assistance to maintain adequate diets. Congress should keep the Nutritional title within the Farm Bill and not make significant cuts to the program that would only burden those most in need.
Through the work of the Unites States Conference of Mayors Food Policy Taskforce, I will be fighting to strengthen our local and regional food systems so that we may all enjoy an adequate, healthy meal, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. I urge everyone, producer, distributor, grocer, consumer, and concerned citizen to contact members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation to push for a comprehensive, multiyear Food and Farm Bill.