"The fight against hunger must have no color, no religion, no political affiliation,” said Director-General José Graziano da Silva of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization onthe same daythe House rejected a farm bill that would cut $2 billion annually from food stamps because the cuts weren't large enough for many Republicans.
Graziano da Silva, speaking on June 20, during the of FAO's 38th governing conference, which occurred the same day an audience at the Vatican, where Pope Francis lauded the UN conference participants for working against hunger, but urged countries to "move beyond indifference" in policies that exclude the most vulnerable. Noting, “Current levels of [food] production are sufficient, yet millions of people still suffer and die of starvation. This is truly scandalous."
The conference on hunger ironically took place while the fight over the Farm Bill happened in Washington over cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps that were projected to remove up to 2 million of the most vulnerable from access to SNAP.
Critics of the cuts point to the most recent Census Bureau's Supplemental Poverty Measure data showing that while 49.7 million people lived in poverty in 2011, SNAP - which serves 46 million low-income Americans per year - actually lifted 4.7 million U.S. households out of poverty. And a January 2013 study by the National Academy of Sciences of SNAP allotments, found the adequacy of these allotments are influenced by “geographic variability in food prices, and barriers to accessing food outlets. The history of race and poverty in America illustrates how low-income minority populations are more likely than others to have limited access to stores selling a variety of healthy foods at a reasonable cost,” stated the report.
Speaking June 17 at FAO's conference (which took place June 15-22,) acting Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, Darci Lynn Vetter said, “The challenges we face around the world – including in the United States – are the twin challenges of hunger and obesity. They are present in every city, in every town, and every school in America.” Vetter added, “we recognize that in recent years nearly 15 percent of American households at one time or another have been unable to acquire adequate food to meet their needs.”
Ironically, President Obama's 2014 budget proposal, announced April 10, 2013, includes reforms to the management of U.S. food aid, which will enable an estimated two to four million more hungry people fed every year with the same resources. The 2014 U.S. budget proposal retains the current level of slightly over $1.5 billion in funding for food assistance. “I am always proud of the generosity of the American people and their willingness to support humanitarian assistance even in times of tight budgets, said David Lane, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies in Rome in April.
According to the 2013 edition of FAO's Statistical Yearbook released during the FAO conference, “Almost 870 million people, or 12.5 percent of the world's population, were undernourished in 2010-2012.”