Baton Rouge, LA, October 27, 2023 – Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome has issued a plea to Congress demanding immediate action in response to the alarming findings of the 2022 USDA Food Security Report. The report reveals a devastating increase in child hunger across the United States, painting a grim picture facing millions of our most vulnerable citizens.
Mayor Broome serves as vice chair of the Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, a nonpartisan coalition working in partnership with the national nonprofit Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry campaign. Over and above her work with the Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, Mayor Broome has made significant investments in the Mayor's Healthy City Initiative, HealthyBR, specifically through the Geaux Get Healthy program. This initiative has connected thousands in Baton Rouge with nutritional food access and education. However, Mayor Broome underscores that these efforts can in no way supplement the services that Congress must provide to tackle this crisis.
Mayor Broome highlighted the following key points:
- 1 in 5 kids, equivalent to over 13 million children, are currently grappling with hunger in the United States. This shocking statistic marks an unprecedented surge in child hunger by nearly 45% within just one year.
- This staggering rate of child hunger is entirely preventable. We have the knowledge and resources to eliminate child hunger in our great nation through smart investments in vital government programs such as SNAP, school and summer meals, and initiatives that channel essential grocery and tax benefits to low-income families.
- The lifelong impact of childhood hunger is immeasurable, affecting not only the immediate health and well-being of children but also their long-term prospects, educational attainment, and economic stability.
- Failure to take swift and comprehensive action in Congress will only exacerbate this crisis, plunging millions of families deeper into despair and hardship.
"In the face of rising child hunger, we must not stand idly by. Our moral duty is to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry. Let us unite as a community, as a nation, to conquer this crisis, for our children hold the keys to our future, and their dreams should never be overshadowed by an empty stomach," said Mayor Broome. “Childhood hunger isn't just a humanitarian issue; it's an economic and public safety concern. Hungry children today can't reach their full potential, impacting our future workforce and economic vitality. We must act now to secure a brighter future for our children and a stronger, healthier and safer society for all.”
The pandemic triggered a surge in hunger as families faced unemployment, mounting medical bills, evictions, and dire hardships. Yet, effective government programs, such as expanded SNAP benefits and tax credits for struggling families, provided a lifeline during this crisis. Unfortunately, many of these critical programs were allowed to expire by Congress, leading to the current crisis.
Rhonda Jackson, Director of No Kid Hungry Louisiana said, “In Louisiana, we know all too well the lifelong implications of childhood hunger. It affects a child’s ability to learn and thrive in school and has long-term impacts on their health and future prospects. We’ve seen the transformative power of programs like SNAP, the addition of Summer EBT, school meals, and the Child Tax Credit. The discontinuation of critical investments in these programs has sharply increased food insecurity, hitting our most vulnerable populations the hardest. We must all do what we can to make sure families can participate in these supportive programs. Together, we can ensure that every child in Louisiana starts their day with a full stomach and an equal shot at success.”
“We have the knowledge and tools to eradicate child hunger in the United States. Before the pandemic, we made significant progress in this regard. When our nation invests in nutrition programs like SNAP, school and summer meals, and initiatives that provide grocery and Child Tax Credit benefits to families, we witness a transformation from hunger and hardship to security and opportunity. The failure to sustain these investments has resulted in the number of children living in food-insecure households more than doubling since before the pandemic,” said Mayor Broome.
Childhood nutrition plays a pivotal role in education, immediate and long-term health, and breaking the cycle of poverty. Well-nourished children can focus on learning, leading to better attendance, fewer sick days, and a higher likelihood of graduation. Access to nutritious food has a direct impact on health outcomes and healthcare costs. By addressing childhood hunger, we can help build a stronger, smarter nation.
If Congress doesn’t act, this situation will get much worse.
Mayor Broome continues to urge Congress to address this crisis. She urges them to improve and strengthen existing programs like SNAP, WIC, school and summer meals programs, and to restore enhancements to the Child Tax Credit. Failure to act puts the well-being of millions of families at risk.