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State Poverty Commission Hits the Road

December 6, 2007

Minneapolis, MN – People are hungry now and public food supplies must be increased immediately. That's the view of a
Minnesota activist on poverty and hunger concerns, who says that, while state efforts to end poverty by the year 2020 are all very well, there are more immediate needs which must be addressed.

Colleen Moriarty with the group Hunger Solutions Minnesota says funding for public food aid hasn't gone up since the funding was established, but that demand for food from the program is up 50 percent in the past six years, and double-digit increases, just in the past eight months.

She testified Wednesday at a hearing by Minnesota's Commission to End Poverty, held at the State Capitol in Minneapolis. The Commission goes on the road Thursday to visit suburban communities seeing increases in poverty and hunger. The 20-member commission established by the State Legislature has been directed to draw up a plan to eliminate poverty in Minnesota in another dozen years.

Moriarty also called on the Commission to urge Congress to increase funding for Food Stamps, school breakfast, and elderly nutrition programs in the next national farm bill.

In her position, Moriarty sees more people turning to what she calls, "the restaurant of last resort," meaning the food shelves where Minnesotans in need can pick up state-supplied foodstuffs.

"This is the final hurrah for a family. They have no power over how much their energy is going to cost, or their transportation or health insurance; or really, even what they're paid on an hourly basis. But the last place they have to make decisions is the food budget -- and that's what suffers."

She also told the Commission that programs designed to provide nutrition need "less bureaucracy and more publicity." She believes a lot of people who qualify for such programs either don't know, or don't bother to use them.

The commission's recommendations are expected by December 2008. Commission information is available online at www.commission.leg.state.mn.us/lcep.

Jim Wishner/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MN