LOS ANGELES – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, No Kid Hungry National Campaign spokesperson Jeff Bridges, and leaders from the state and local level to launch the Los Angeles No Kid Hungry Campaign, a public-private partnership that will work to connect more than 600,000 children and teens to school breakfast and child care nutrition programs. Vilsack highlighted the partnership as a model for helping communities increase food access by promoting coordination and partnerships between public, private and non-profit partners.
“The health and wellbeing of our nation is dependent on the health of our children, and no child should ever have to go hungry,” said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. “USDA works to provide low-income kids nutritious meals during the school year and in the summer so they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential to help America win the future. But we know that our strength comes from our partnerships, and it will take everyone - government agencies, educators, elected officials, corporations, advocates and community leaders - to ensure that our children have a healthy start in life.”
The campaign is an example of the strength of public-private partnerships that will work to connect more than 600,000 children and teens to school breakfast and child care nutrition programs. In Los Angeles, more than 1 million children and teens are eligible for subsidized meals and may be at risk of hunger. The School Breakfast Program and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) provide children with nutritious meals while in school and at day care. However, more than 30 percent of children are eligible for but don’t participate in school breakfast and more than 45 percent of child care homes and centers are not enrolled in the CACFP.
In 2009, over 50 million individuals in the United States, or 16.6% of the population, lived in food insecure households. Children are most at risk. During the same time frame, over 17 million children lived in food insecure households. These homes had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources at some time during the year. The anti-hunger initiatives announced today, along with the Stakeholder Guide to Ending Childhood Hunger recently published on USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service website, are all tools to help individuals and families put food on the table.
Improving child nutrition is also a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed by President Obama on December 13, 2010. This legislation reauthorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative.
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the child nutrition programs, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger.