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Feeding the hungry – U.S. should do more, group says

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Americans are going hungry and Congress should act to make sure they get fed, a church group says.

In a new study, Maryland-based Bread for the World calls on Americans to lobby Congress to help cut hunger in half in the U.S. in two years and in the world within two decades.

The group says Congress should strengthen nutrition programs, increase the minimum wage and make it easier for people to get food stamps.

Thirty-one million people in the U.S. live in families that can’t afford the food they need, the study says, with 3.6 percent of all U.S. households hungry and 10.2 percent at risk of hunger.

“During this time of prosperity, our country should be devoting energy and resources to finally eradicating hunger in the United States,” the group says in its 10th annual report on the state of world hunger.

“Instead, one in 10 U.S. families aren’t always sure at the start of the month whether they’ll have enough food to last until month’s end.”

The U.S. could cut the number of its hungry to 16 million by spending $5 billion a year more on nutrition programs, or only $18 a year for every American, the group says.

It also calls for Congress to make more people eligible for food stamps “by changing outdated rules that keep some hungry families from getting help and reestablishing eligibility for legal immigrants.”

Ten million fewer Americans receive food stamps now than six years ago, the group says. And while unemployment has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years, it says, “millions of full-time workers do not get paid enough to feed their families.”

Bread for the World also says a $1 increase in the minimum wage would put food on the table for 1.8 million more workers.

What’s more, it says, by contributing $1 billion a year – less than one-third of one percent of the federal budget — the U.S. government could help cut world hunger in half within two decades.

“People of faith must let our nation’s leaders know that now is the time to renew efforts to end hunger in the United States,” Bread for the World says. “The United States is the only industrial country that still puts up with widespread hunger within its borders.”

— TODD COHEN

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