Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Today we were privileged to attend “Good Morning Michigan,” an early-morning coffee hour with Senator Debbie Stabenow from Michigan. We chose Senator Stabenow because she represents Carolyn’s home state of Michigan and serves on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry. This committee, through bills like the Farm Bill and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, has the largest impact on federal programs dealing with hunger.
We first spoke with legislative correspondent Alex Sheff, who described Senator Stabenow’s efforts in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to expand a program of full meals after school from a 10-state pilot program to a nationwide program. This would be an especially good way to improve nutrition for school-aged children, many of whom are already in after-school programs.

When it was our turn to speak with Debbie, we were impressed that she’d read the synopsis of our project and seemed interested in what we were doing. We asked her what she thought the role of government was in ending hunger in the US. She clearly takes a faith-based, principled point of view in her work on hunger programs. But she also appears to be very pragmatic about what can be accomplished and how. She said that the existence of hunger reflects cultural acceptance of the problem. People often think it’s entirely your fault if you’re hungry. Until there’s a change in the cultural mindset, Congress will be slow to act. Instead, once people demand an end to hunger, then Congress will enact programs to truly achieve that goal.

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