Creating Bold Solutions by Elevating Voices
Statement by Fred C. Wasiak, President and CEO of the Food Bank of South Jersey, on the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health
For the first time in more than 50 years, the White House is holding a conference to focus on hunger in America. The original conference, held in 1969, was bold in its solutions. Supplemental nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC, as well as the National School Breakfast and Lunch programs, were created, expanded, or further strengthened to meet the health and nutrition needs of our communities.
Ahead of tomorrow’s momentous event, food banks across the country held listening sessions with the neighbors we serve as part of an initiative spurred by Feeding America. The report “Elevating Voices to end Hunger Together: Community-Driven Solutions to Address America’s Hunger Crisis” highlights the importance of putting people at the center of any new programs, solutions, or policies.
The Food Bank of South Jersey held listening sessions in the four counties we serve, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, and Salem. The messages we heard were clear from our neighbors:
- Rising food prices reinforce the difficult choices people must make every day between food, medicine, utilities, and rent.
- Access and ease of use should be paramount in all food assistance programs, and we always need to prioritize dignity.
- Helping residents with nutrition education and healthy cooking information will help to improve health outcomes.
- Understanding that issues beyond food like quality jobs, housing affordability, and education are essential to getting to the root causes of food insecurity.
We know that hunger is real in America. And it is real in South Jersey. But no one should have to face it – certainly not alone. We look forward to working with our elected officials, community partners, and neighbors toward ending hunger by 2030 and ensuring that our South Jersey communities can thrive long into the future.