Ending Hunger in America, 2014 Hunger Report Introduction - Page 18

INTRODUCTION The accumulation of wealth provided a cushion to complement a couple’s Social Security benefits in retirement, or it could be used to finance other investments that pay off in the long term, such as college educations for children, home improvements, or starting a small business. Most small businesses in America are capitalized with the owner’s personal wealth. Only small businesses of a relatively “big” size find that mainstream financial institutions are willing to extend them low-interest credit. Public-Private Partnerships and Community Initiatives The federal government cannot end hunger by itself. It needs partners in state and local government and in civil society—such as the thousands of nonprofit organizations and volunteers who fight hunger every day in their communities. It needs business leaders who understand the scarring effects of hunger on human capital development and how food insecurity harms the economy. And, of course, people living in poverty will do most of what needs to be done to end hunger for themselves and their families. A goal to end hunger will not be met unless it is adopted and “owned” by all of these partners. Setting a national goal to end hunger could mobilize our whole society. When a president sets a goal to end hunger, we expect states and localities to embrace it and deploy resources of their own. Some community groups and businesses, along with many poor people, will join in. The conversation rises in pitch and encourages others to participate, and the goal becomes a priority for the nation as a whole. As more people support it, new leaders emerge with new ideas of how to achieve the goal, and the engines of innovation begin to hum. Partnership means recognizing the value that different partners bring to the common aspiration. Nothing at the state or local level can match the sheer volume of resources the federal government contributes. In 2012, Bread for the World produced a fact sheet showing that for every 24 bags of food assistance in the United States, government nutrition programs account for 23.47 But what the fact sheet did not show is how many of those bags get to where they are needed because of the tireless efforts of partners in local communities. These include volunteers doing SNAP outreach, elected officials streamlining how nutrition programs are implemented so that more people can participate, food service directors figuring out creative ways to get healthier foods into school meal programs, church leaders hosting summer food sites, food banks distributing government commodities, government workers defeating their stereotyped image as impersonal bureaucrats, and more. These are all examples of how partners at the local level enhance what the federal government does to fight hunger. www.bread.org/institute? Johnnie Jones of the U.S. Department of Agriculture fills bags with oatmeal purchased in bulk to be distributed by the Arlington Food Assistance Center in Arlington, Virginia. USDA/Bob Nichols ? 2014 Hunger Report? 27 n