Hunger in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt., Oct. 9 - U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said today that "unconscionable" cuts in a federal emergency hunger program have resulted in a 50 percent reduction in food supplies from that program for the Vermont Foodbank.

The foodbank runs programs through a network of 280 food shelves, community centers, churches, schools and senior centers.

The foodbank has experienced shortages because of deep cuts in discretionary allotments by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Emergency Food Assistance Program which helps working families, the elderly, children and the homeless.

"At a time when many Vermonters are struggling to make ends meet, many low-income households - including working families, the elderly and children - rely on emergency food shelves for short-term hunger relief," Sanders said at a news conference at the Chittenden County Emergency Food Shelf.

"It is simply unacceptable that in this day and age, Vermont children go to bed hungry. And, it is unconscionable that the federal government would cut back on food and nutrition assistance to states as our nation struggles to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression," he added.

Sanders was joined at the news conference by John Sayles, the Vermont Foodbank CEO, and Rob Meehan, the executive director of the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

The senator warned that more cuts may be on the way because the House has refused to consider the Senate-passed farm bill which funds many other federal food assistance programs such as food stamps, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the School Lunch Program and the Summer Food Service Program.

Nationwide, hunger is at an all-time high in the United States.  Last year, almost 45 million people - or one in every seven Americans - received food stamps, more than at any other time in our nation's history.

In Vermont, more than one in eight households do not have the money to fully meet their food needs at all times, according to Hunger Free Vermont. More than 12,000 Vermont children depend on food shelves each month and almost 10,000 Vermont seniors face the threat of hunger.