Larsen Honored by Washington’s Largest Hunger Relief Agency</A

Apr 19, 2007


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) will be honored tonight by Food Lifeline, Washington's largest hunger relief agency and an affiliate of America's Second Harvest, for his work to end hunger in our communities. 

“It takes a lot of people working together to feed hungry people, and when you are fortunate enough to have an elected official like Representative Rick Larsen working diligently at the federal level to ensure that the most vulnerable individuals in our community are receiving the nutritional resources they need, it is important to take a moment and recognize his work,” said Linda Nageotte, President & CEO of Food Lifeline. “On behalf of the more than 560,000 hungry people we serve, Food Lifeline thanks Representative Larsen for his tireless efforts to end hunger in Washington state.”

In 2006, Larsen held a series of roundtable events across the 2nd Congressional District bringing together farmers, people on food assistance, hunger activists, state and local agencies and other community members to build partnerships to combat hunger. Throughout his time in Congress, Larsen has worked to bring federal initiatives to Washington state to help fight hunger and deliver healthy foods to children and seniors in need. Larsen continues to make fighting hunger one of his top priorities in Congress.

The U.S. House of Representatives was in session today and Larsen’s legislative duties kept him in Washington, D.C., but he recorded a video message thanking Food Lifeline and the other honorees for their work. Below are some facts on hunger in Western Washington and Larsen’s remarks as delivered.

Facts on Hunger in Western Washington*:

  • 39% of the hungry people Food Lifeline serves are children.
  • 51% of the hungry people Food Lifeline serves must choose between food and paying for heat.
  • 40% of the hungry people Food Lifeline serves must choose between food and paying for medicine or medical care.
  • 40% of the hungry people Food Lifeline serves must choose between food and rent.
  • Nearly 45% of the individuals using a food bank, meal program or shelter in Western Washington have some form of post-secondary education. Only 15% are actually homeless.
  • Nearly 43% of the people who are emergency food recipients in Western Washington are food insecure. This means that these individuals do not know when they will eat again and often go to bed hungry.

*Statistics from Food Lifeline

Larsen’s Remarks to the Food Lifeline World of Thanks Event:
“I want to thank you for inviting me to participate in Food Lifeline’s “World of Thanks” event and for honoring me with the Raising Hunger Awareness Award. More importantly, I want to thank the men and women of Food Lifeline and all the hunger-relief organizations who serve on the front lines in the fight against hunger every day.

“Nothing saddens me more than seeing our children suffer from hunger.  I am committed to supporting your efforts in Congress and I am dedicated to bringing the same level of urgency and commitment to the hunger epidemic that local organizations and volunteers bring to the issue every day.

“Thanks to your efforts, Washington’s food insecurity and hunger rates have improved. But more must be done. According to the most recent statistics, 95,000 Washington residents suffer from hunger. Around 300,000 Washingtonians are forced to choose between putting food on the table and paying their bills. In the wealthiest nation in the world this is simply unacceptable. 

“The federal government has an important role to play in the battle against hunger.  We must work in conjunction with state and local governments to fill in the gaps between faith-based organizations, food banks and local social service agencies’ efforts.  As community members it is our responsibility to assist Americans in need.

“In 2004, I worked to bring the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Pilot Program to Washington state. This program provides free fresh fruits and vegetables to students in 25 of the most socio-economically challenged schools in our state.  The results have been clear -- children are more alert, focused and ready to learn.  I support efforts to expand this program in Washington state and across the country.

“I have also worked to battle the problem of children not getting enough to eat when school is out of session. As you know, only a fraction of children who receive free and reduced lunches during the school year receive meals during the summer.  I was pleased when Washington state began participating in the Lugar Pilot Program to provide kids with breakfast and lunch when they are not in school.  It is essential that we continue to find ways to combat childhood hunger. 

“As you know, Congress will work to reauthorize the Farm Bill this year.  It is crucial that the 2007 Farm Bill reflects the need for strong federal anti-hunger programs and provides support for emergency food assistance programs. 

“Efforts such as the Food Stamp Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program are our nation’s first line of defense in the fight against hunger.

“Within the Farm Bill, Congress must also find more ways to build partnerships with local agriculture producers and anti-hunger organizations.  We must continue to grow successful efforts like the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition program which provides locally grown healthy and nutritious food to our seniors.

“I will be working closely with the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, Collin Peterson of Minnesota, to address these critical areas and work on writing the best Farm Bill we can.
“In closing, I want to thank you once again for the work you do every day to alleviate hunger in our communities. Your work truly makes a difference.”