- Report Published -
|Hunger in the Commonwealth|
|Secretary of Health and Human Resources|
|SJR 184 (Regular Session, 1994)|
|The General Assembly has requested the Secretary of Health and Human Resources to study and report on the status of Hunger in the Commonwealth. As part of the study, the Secretary is to review the findings of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Hunger and Malnutrition in the Commonwealth (Senate Document 13, 1985) and report on the status of actions taken in response to that report.|
Even using indicators such as the number of people participating in food assistance programs and the number of people living below the federally established poverty level, it is still difficult to determine the exact extent of hunger in the Commonwealth today. After the 1985 report, Virginia made changes through legislation and policy. Among other changes, eligibility requirements for food stamps and Medicaid were eased, The Women and Infant Supplemental Care program (WIC) developed an out-reach program, and income guidelines for the program were adjusted to allow more women and children to be eligible for services. The food banks expanded and distributed increasing amounts of food. The programs expanded but so did the population and the number of people living in poverty. Despite increased numbers of citizens receiving assistance, there are still increasing demands on food assistance programs throughout the state.
Hunger is a problem that requires both short term and long term solutions. People who are hungry cannot wait until their job training is complete, or until their food stamp application is processed. Their hunger needs to be addressed immediately. The causes must also be addressed or the need for emergency assistance becomes chronic. Hunger cannot be treated in isolation.
Poverty is the primary cause of hunger. Creation of jobs and reform of the welfare system is necessary before declines in hunger can be realized.
Below are the recommendations of this study:
• Designate additional staff and space within the Department of Health to allow growth in the WIC program.
• Increase public awareness of existing programs through cooperative, informational relationships with and among Virginia localities, organizations, businesses and churches.
• Bring the administration of the Summer Food Service Program, the Child and Adult Care Program, and the Private School Lunch Program to Virginia. (These programs are currently administered by the U. S. Department of Agriculture in New Jersey.)
• Utilize the services of the Office of Volunteerism to better develop and coordinate the use of volunteers in programs statewide.