National commission launched to address hunger in America

Washington, DC — In an effort to find ways to help Americans who have difficulty affording sufficient healthy food for themselves and their families, Congress has appointed a bipartisan National Commission on Hunger, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 (H.R.3547). The ten members of the Commission will focus on finding innovative methods to help low income Americans avoid what is known as very low food security. 

The Commission plans to conduct at least three field hearings in various parts of the country beginning in March. Based on its own deliberations and testimony from the hearings, the Commission will provide final recommendations to Congress and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) by November 2015. The recommendations are meant to include ways to more effectively use Department of Agriculture programs and funds to combat food insecurity. 

The Commission has been meeting internally on a monthly basis since June 2014 to discuss various innovative potential reforms in both public and private food assistance programs aimed at alleviating the incidence of very low food security. 

Additionally, the Commission launched its website which provides biographies of all Commission members, information on its activities, access to research and a forum for constructive public advice regarding potential program ideas and reforms that can improve America's response to very low food security among families, adults and children. 

The elected co-chairs of the National Commission on Hunger are Robert Doar, Morgridge fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute and Dr. Mariana Chilton, associate professor at Drexel University School of Public Health and director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities.

"Robert Doar and I are very pleased to be working with such outstanding Commission members—all of whom are experts on food assistance policy and nutrition," said Chilton.

"Dr. Chilton and I are looking forward to finding the necessary consensus behind solid solutions on this difficult and troubling issue," said Doar. "While many just celebrated the holidays, others struggled to put a festive dinner on the table.  The Commission hopes its work reminds people that very low food security is a year round problem that needs solutions not only from government, but also from business and non-profit sectors, and individuals themselves."

The other eight members of the Commission include:

  • Ricki Barlow, Las Vegas city councilman, 
  • Cherie Jamason, director of Food Bank of Northern Nevada, 
  • Spencer A. Coates, president of Houchens Industries
  • Russell Sykes, president, Russell Sykes Consulting Services, former deputy commissioner, NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, Center for Employment and Economic Security 
  • Jeremy Everett, director of Texas Hunger Initiative, Baylor University
  • Susan Finn, Ph.D., RD, LD, FADA, CEO of the global consultancy Finn/Parks & Associates
  • Deborah A. Frank, M.D., founder & principal investigator of Children's HealthWatch, Director of Grow Clinic for Children at Boston Medical Center and Professor of Pediatrics at BU School of Medicine
  • Billy Shore, founder and CEO of Share Our Strength

The Commission has the staff and advisory support of RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, under contract to the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service for research, technical assistance and development of the Commission's final report to Congress and USDA on policy and program improvements.

Highlights

  • Congress has appointed a bipartisan National Commission on Hunger in an effort to find ways to help Americans who have difficulty affording sufficient food
  • RTI International will support the bipartisan National Commission on Hunger in their work