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By Robin Stephenson
“Hunger is a political condition,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) yesterday, in a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. A long-time champion of the anti-hunger movement, McGovern is encouraging the use of a new hashtag on the social media network Twitter: #EndHungerNow.
Social networks are about conversations and national conversations influence members of Congress. We have the resources to end hunger, but we need to build political will. Increased public dialogue around the issue of hunger can help convince both Congress and the administration that ending hunger must be a national priority.
One of the most important, but least talked about, stories to emerge about the economic downturn is that the safety net has worked. “It’s important to point out that even though over 50 million people were food insecure, the vast majority had a safety net that prevented them from actually starving,” McGovern said during his speech.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps) is largely responsible for keeping food on the tables of those Americans most affected by unemployment and under-employment. Yet during last year’s farm bill negotiations, the House Committee on Agriculture proposed $16.5 billion in cuts to the vital program. As many as 3 million people would have been cut out of SNAP and 280,000 children would have lost their school meals.
Members of Congress need to hear our call to prioritize ending hunger, so we must speak up, and use all channels available to us in order to get that message across. McGovern will continue to do weekly "End Hunger Now" speeches on the floor and ask that you join him online, using the #EndHungerNow hashtag. Join the conversation—and tag your members of Congress in a tweet while you're at it.
Here is a video of yesterday's floor speech:
And if you aren't on Twitter, you can still influence your members of Congress and encourage them to create a circle of protection around SNAP. Write or email your representative and senators, or consider making use of public dialogue by writing an op-ed or letter to the editor and submitting it to your local newspaper.
Robin Stephenson is national social media lead and senior regional organizer, western hub, at Bread for the World.