SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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THE EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2001
SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS,
OVERSIGHT, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
JUNE 21, 2001
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSerial No. 10711
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COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
LARRY COMBEST, Texas, Chairman
JOHN A. BOEHNER, Ohio
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
NICK SMITH, Michigan
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma
SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JOHN R. THUNE, South Dakota
WILLIAM L. JENKINS, Tennessee
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCGIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
BOB RILEY, Alabama
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Idaho
DOUG OSE, California
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
ERNIE FLETCHER, Kentucky
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Mississippi
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois
TOM OSBORNE, Nebraska
MIKE PENCE, Indiana
DENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana
SAM GRAVES, Missouri
ADAM H. PUTNAM, Florida
MARK R. KENNEDY, Minnesota
CHARLES W. STENHOLM, Texas,
Ranking Minority Member
GARY A. CONDIT, California
COLLIN C. PETERSON, Minnesota
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
SANFORD D. BISHOP, Jr., Georgia
BENNIE G. THOMPSON, Mississippi
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCJOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
MIKE McINTYRE, North Carolina
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
LEONARD L. BOSWELL, Iowa
DAVID D. PHELPS, Illinois
KEN LUCAS, Kentucky
MIKE THOMPSON, California
BARON P. HILL, Indiana
JOE BACA, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
MIKE ROSS, Arkansas
ANÍBAL ACEVEDO-VILÁ, Puerto Rico
RON KIND, Wisconsin
RONNIE SHOWS, Mississippi
WILLIAM E. O'CONNER, JR., Staff Director
LANCE KOTSCHWAR, Chief Counsel
STEPHEN HATERIUS, Minority Staff Director
KEITH WILLIAMS, Communications Director
Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBOB GOODLATTE, Virginia, Chairman
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
JERRY MORAN, Kansas
JOHN COOKSEY, Louisiana
MICHAEL K. SIMPSON, Illinois
DENNIS R. REHBERG, Montana
ADAM H. PUTNAM, Florida
EVA M. CLAYTON, North Carolina,
Ranking Minority Member
MARION BERRY, Arkansas
ANÍBAL ACEVEDO-VILÁ, Puerto Rico
EARL F. HILLIARD, Alabama
TIM HOLDEN, Pennsylvania
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
BRENT W. GATTIS, Subcommittee Staff Director
C O N T E N T S
H.R. 2185, to amend the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to purchase additional commodities for distribution; and for other purposes.
Goodlatte, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia, opening statement
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Bost, Eric M., Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mr. David Goodman, executive director, Redwood Empire Food Bank, Santa Rosa, CA
Horne, Ken executive director, Society of St. Andrew, Big Island, VA
Weaver, David, executive director, South Plains Food Bank, Lubbock, TX
THE EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2001
THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2001
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Department Operations,
Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry,
Committee on Agriculture,
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The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:07 a.m., in room 1300, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Bob Goodlatte (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives: Clayton, Berry, Baldacci, and Stenholm [ex officio].
Staff present: Brent Gattis, subcommittee staff director; Lynn Gallagher, senior professional staff; Callista Gingrich, chief clerk; Jason Vaillancourt, Stephanie Myers, Claire Folbre, Susanna Love, and Walter Vinson.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BOB GOODLATTE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Mr. GOODLATTE. Good morning. This hearing of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, to review H.R. 2185, the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act of 2001, is called to order. I would like to welcome everybody, and I have an opening statement.
The purpose of this hearing is to receive testimony and written statements concerning the Emergency Food Assistance Enhancement Act. The panelists we have assembled today will describe the effects of this act pertaining to The Emergency Food Assistance Program, or TEFAP.
Food banks and other organizations meet the needs of their communities by managing donations from the Government and private sectors, and most Government donations are from TEFAP. It is a unique program that has the ability to provide nutritious domestic food products to needy Americans, while, at the same time, providing direct support to the agriculture community.
Although Federal food donations through the TEFAP are not the only source of food distributed by food banks and others, they are key because they provide distributing agencies with some certainty as to their inventory and contribute greatly to the variety of food items that are offered.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC TEFAP grants for storage, transportation, and distribution costs are also enabling the agencies to efficiently handle a large volume of Federal and private donations. In the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, Congress made TEFAP commodity purchases mandatory because of the integral role it has in providing food aid to needy families and individuals.
TEFAP benefits are a quick fix, something to get families through tough times. TEFAP gives them the support they need, but it doesn't catch them in a cycle of dependency. These food purchases also provide much needed support to the agriculture community. While other food assistance programs are much larger, TEFAP purchases have a much more direct impact on agricultural producers.
The 1997 Balanced Budget Act included hundreds of millions of dollars for employment and training programs aimed at able-bodied adults between the ages of 18 and 50 without dependents, whose eligibility for food stamps was restricted by a work requirement set up in the 1996 welfare reform law. The bulk of the money is dedicated to employment/training programs that keep unemployed able-bodied adults on the food stamp rolls, if they participate. But much of it is going unspent.
Several hearings and reports have said that this money is unspent because few are taking advantage of employment and training assistance offered through the Food Stamp Program. States running the program are not seeing a demand and are not drawing on this fund. The unused pool of employment and training money now tops $200 million, and continues to grow. At the same time, food banks and other emergency food providers report increased demand from this group and others.
The Secretary of Agriculture continually reviews States' spending of their Food Stamp Program allocations for employment and training programs. If a State doesn't use the money allocated to it, the Secretary can reallocate it to another State that can use it. My bill does nothing to change or restrict this authority. It simply allows the Secretary to tap up to $40 million a year in unspent and unreallocated employment and training funds for TEFAP commodity purchases and storage, transportation, and distribution costs.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I look forward to hearing the witnesses' testimony today and I would now like to recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, Mrs. Clayton of North Carolina.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. EVA M. CLAYTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
Mrs. CLAYTON. I thank chairman for holding this hearing. And I want to commend him in the bill that he has introduced and look forward to the testimony of the witnesses. TEFAP, indeed, is an important resource that many of our providers of food and our shelter programs, indeed, use. The introduction of the TEFAP and increasing that certainly has made life better and in the flexibility in which it has been administered certainly has added to the ease of it.
Additionally, with the increase of the amount of food that we have made also, adds to the burdening to the administrative woes. We took some action yesterday. Hopefully it will relieve some of the transportation and some of the administrative costs to make it easy.
I certainly want to see more foods and more opportunities go to a large number of people. TEFAP is one of the many tools we have in responding to the many faces that are hungry in this country, and we ought to see how we add more flexibility and how we expand that to make sure we have an opportunity. So I look forward to the discussion of this, and, as well as we look forward to having this as a part of our ongoing hearing to make sure, as we rewrite the nutrition portion of the farm bill, that we have this as an intricate part that we can build on. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mrs. Clayton.
I am especially pleased to welcome our first panel, the Honorable Eric M. Bost, Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services. I should say, the newly minted Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Washington, DC, accompanied by Mr. Braley, also of the Department. And I would like to welcome you and tell you that your written statement will be made a part of the record, and we would be delighted to hear your testimony at this time. Mr. Under Secretary, welcome.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF ERIC M. BOST, UNDER SECRETARY, FOOD, NUTRITION, AND CONSUMER SERVICES, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Mr. BOST. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Good morning. Mr. Chairman, and Representative
Mr. GOODLATTE. I am sorry.
Mr. BOST. That is all right.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mrs. Clayton, wants to say a word in your behalf as well.
Mr. BOST. Oh. OK.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I don't know if it is in his behalf, but I do want to
Mr. BOST. I guess we can determine that after you have finished.
Mrs. CLAYTON. That is right.
I do want to acknowledge him as our newyou said mintedis that how it goesand welcome him to his new position. Part of his career and his life is in North Carolina. His family is in North Carolina. He is from Concordand I think that is the home of Representative Hayes.
Mr. BOST. Yes.
Mrs. CLAYTON. And he has had distinction of attending the University of North Carolina, so I want to officially welcome him as someone from my State.
Mr. BOST. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, and Representative Clayton, good morning. I am Eric M. Bost, the Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. I am really pleased to be here today. It is, indeed, a pleasure to appear before the subcommittee this morning as one of my first new duties since being sworn in by Secretary Veneman this past Monday. I look forward to more opportunities to appear before the Agriculture Committee as we discuss the reauthorization of the Nutrition Title contained in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As I stated before the Senate Agriculture Committee during my confirmation hearing, the job before me is a humbling one, but one for which I believe that I am, indeed, prepared. The nutrition assistance programs are essential to fighting hunger and improving nutrition for children and many low-income persons.
In the short time since assuming my new duties, the Food and Nutrition Services staff have advised me on three main issues for this hearing that I would like to briefly discuss.
First, as the chairman noted, there are substantial carryover funds in the Food Stamp Program's Education and Training account. This has occurred because 80 percent of the E&T funds are earmarked to train able-bodied adults for work and the number of eligible individuals has significantly declined. Unless they get a job or participate in training, these individuals have a time limit for participation in the Food Stamp Program. States have not spent the funds as rapidly as has been expected, and unspent funds remain in this account each year.
Second, the chairman, of course, has a keen interest in helping The Emergency Food Assistance Program and has convened several, as is my understanding, several hearings on how to use these unspent E&T funds to enhance this program. Acting FNS Administrator George Braley, who is with me today, has briefed me on his appearance before this subcommittee on April 3 of this past year. National organizations and local food banks testified about the importance of TEFAP, but they face a dilemma. And it is a dilemma that we also faced as I was responsible for running this program in Texas.
Although there has been an increase in the amount of commodities available for TEFAP, there has been no increase in the Federal funds for intrastate storage and distribution. Available TEFAP commodities include not only those acquired with the 100 million authorized in the Food Stamp Act of 1997 for direct purchases, but also additional bonus commodities from the $200 million in purchases authorized by the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000. A substantial portion of these commodities is expected to be distributed through TEFAP.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The third point that was a part of H.R. 2185, introduced by the chairman, would make permanent the authorization to purchase more commodities for distribution throughout TEFAP. We understand that the bill would also allow for an increase of funds for State level storage and distribution costs for TEFAP. And I believe that is very, important. All of this would be done by reallocating unspent food stamp E&T funds. And I think this is the keywhether using these unspent E&T funds, that is the question for a discussion. More States each year are using E&T funds, and we now see that spending is up to nearly $100 million. And so we have seen a small increase.
Mr. Chairman, USDA is currently providing substantial commodity support for TEFAP. It is through the TEFAP local operators that much of the success of this program has occurred. They have reported that additional administrative funds for intrastate storage and distribution would be most helpful and we agree that some relief to the States for storage and distribution costs in TEFAP would help ensure that States do not decline bonus commodities that could otherwise be used to help needy people. And I think that is very important.
We are currently working to make additional funds available for this program's administrative costs by reprogramming $5 million in Commodity Supplemental Food Program's funds provided in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriation Act for fiscal year 2001. We will be notifying Congress formally in the near future of our intent to reprogram the funds from CSFP to TEFAP. The additional 5 million in reprogrammed funds will enable States to accommodate the increase in commodities available to TEFAP in fiscal year 2001.
I really do truly look forward to working with you and the subcommittee to ensure that we have the necessary authority so that available resources are targeted wisely in the support of people who need our Nation's nutritional assistance programs. All of the Food and Nutritional Services programs are important to the people they serve, and these programs comprise the safety net necessary for reaching our goals of eliminating hunger and improving the nutrition and health of Americans.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That concludes my testimony, Mr. Chairman. I would be more than pleased and happy to answer any questions that you may have. And if I can't answer it, that is why I think they sent George up here, since I am so new, to make sure I didn't say anything I am not supposed to say.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bost appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Bost. And we appreciate your testimony. You accurately recounted my passion for this issue. I will tell you that of all the different food programs that the Federal Government has, I am keenest on this one. Not that the others are not importantthey are very important. Some of them are much larger than this program.
But this one truly is a grassroots, people-helping-people, and often the help goes beyond that box or bag of groceries that help them stretch their budget through the end of the week or the end of the month. But it goes to volunteers reaching out and saying, well does somebody in your family need a ride to the doctor? Does somebody need help finding a job? Does somebody need help with their schooling? All of those kind of things come from getting the community involved.
It also seems to me to be one of the best programs that the President could point to that really supports his faith-based initiative in a noncontroversial way, because these food banks serve food pantries that are probably 75 or 80 percent run by churches and synagogues and mosques and various types of religious organizations that are not out there, for the most part, causing controversial type of incidents, but rather reaching out to people truly in need and utilizing that volunteer spirit that comes from those kinds of organizationsreligious and secular organizations that help people.
And so that is why I think that providing the backbone of that program, which is what TEFAP does, is so important. And I wonder if you agree with me that there is a need for increased funding for TEFAP?
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOST. Oh, absolutely.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Let me move on to the other side of the coin, the part that you correctly noted as the one that is getting the closest scrutiny. And that is, the Employment and Training programs as a source of the funding. In this past year, they had available $330 million. You correctly note that there is a small increase to $100 million of that being used. But that still leaves more than $200 million unspent. Do you have any idea how much the States are expected to use in this coming year?
Mr. BOST. Yes. It is my understanding that they anticipate increasing that amount by, I think, 10 to 12 percent each year. About $117 million.
Mr. GOODLATTE. No. I think that would be $117 million, which would be a small increase from what is being currently used and still leaving more than $200 million unspent. Well, does the administration have any plans for that money?
Mr. BOST. As we get into the reauthorization, of course, of the farm bill and the Food Stamp Program, I think that we wanted to make sure that that money was available for discussion. And so, at this point in time, I don't know if I can say that we have plans for it. But, at this point, we wanted to make sure that money was there that would allow the administration and the Congress some flexibility in terms of making some decisions about its use.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Absolutely. And, in fact, our legislation contemplates that by saying that any of the money that is either used directly by the States or even reallocated by the Secretary to a State that might be being very ambitious with the Employing and Training Program and needing more fundsall of that would come ahead of this request for $40 million for TEFAP. But we are nowhere near reaching that point. And so, again, we renew our request to find the best use I can think of for that money.
Let me ask you about some other trends. The Employment and Training money is reserved for a particular group of individualswe call them ABAWDs. It is not a very flattering description there. They are Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents between the ages of 18 and 50. And we are certainly concerned that those folks be productive members of our society and get the employment and training assistance they need. That was the intention of the Welfare Reform Act. What has happened in that area?
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOST. Essentially, over the course of the last several years, we have seen a significant decrease in the number of persons that are participating in that program. I believe nationally, in fiscal year 1996, it was about 1.1 million and in fiscal year 2000, it is down to about 71,000 monthly. However, I think it is real important to note that they bring to the table a whole host of issues and challenges that I believe this made it very difficult for the States to provide them with some needed training. And so I think that is one issue.
I think the second issue is the fact that with the implementation of Welfare Reform in 1996, the focus of attention was on those persons with children. And I would suffice it to say that, given that we have seen a significant decrease in the number of persons in our country receiving benefits, that now the focusI know in Texas and many other States that I have had the opportunity to discuss this issue aboutthe focus is going to be on addressing the needs of this specific group of persons. I hate to say, but they have kind of fallen by the wayside, but now they are back up in terms of States beginning to address their needs.
And that is why, I think, that we are going to see an increase made by the States in terms of requesting money to address the needs of these persons, because their needs, of course, have not been met.
And the other issue that I think it is real important to note, too, is the fact that the rules, in terms of how they can be served and the characteristics that they bring forward, that they tend to be a group of people that kind of wade in and out of services. They come and receive some services and then they go away and then they kind of come back. And so this has, I think, brought some very unique challenges to the States, in terms of being able to address their needs that they have.
One of the things I would share with you, Mr. Chairman, and Congresswoman Clayton, is to look at this in a little bit more detail to find out exactly what some of the best practices are across the country to see what we can do relative to ensuring that information is shared with other States that aren't doing a good job. I do know of a waiver, I think, that the Department gave to Oregon to look at doing some things a little bit more creative. And so I think we need to look at expanding some of those opportunities across the country.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. My time is expired, but let me ask one more question, if I may. What are some of the non-monetary improvements that we should consider for the TEFAP program and other commodity distribution programs?
Mr. BOST. I don't know. I haven't thought about it. George?
Mr. BRALEY. Mr. Chairman, I think that what we have been able to do in terms of providing additional foods to organizations involved in TEFAP has really been a big help. The administrative funding certainly is aand, again, that is addressed in your bill, but also in the reprogramming. And we have worked with State and local agencies to try to identify best practices and encourage discussions amongst State agencies about how they have been able to reach vulnerable populations, working with the American Commodity Distribution Association, who you will hear from later today.
But I can't think of legislative options off the top of my head, but I would certainly be happy to give that some thought, along with Under Secretary Bost, and work with you on that in the future.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Very good. Thank you. Mrs. Clayton.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Thank you. A couple of things, Mr. Bost. As was correctly noted, that why we have so much money, that money was designated at the time that we made the election not to give food continuously to these group of people we call, I guess, able-bodied adults without dependents. And there is some controversy about that. And I know I was concerned about that. And I think the idea was based on the principle, if the people are able, they ought to be working and you can't defeat that. I mean, that should be the case.
And so the assumption was that able-bodied people will have probably less of a food need, but more of an educational need or training need in the transition. So the 3 months was given and they were off.
But what we found, as you looked at that, more of those persons who were in that category had some real problems. Problems that sometimes we want to stereotype them. Sometimes they were, indeed, people who had mental problems. Sometimes they were problem people who we sometimes described as vagabonds, bums, or derelicts. And they required a little more than the normal kind of paper. And so education, in our normal education sense, was never perceived as reaching that kind of floating in and floating out group. You worked in Texas. How did you try to capture that group knowingwhathow did you use your education and training money? Did you have an opportunity to using it?
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOST. Yes. We did. But like other States, we saw a significant decrease in the number of persons that we were able reach. It went from a high of about 82,000 several years ago, down to about 16,000 as of February of 1999. So we, like other States, were struggling.
But one of the things that we attempted to do that seems to be getting some footing, is that we appropriated some money for some innovative projects that local entities, profits and non-profits, across the State, were able to bid on, that would address the needs of not only ABAWDs, but other unique groups of persons that needed some sort of intervention to help them move from welfare to working on to self-sufficiency. And so that was one of the things that we started to do.
The other thing that I think that was very important for us was, as you said, to try to ensure that we tie those opportunities for work and training together. It has been my experience when we looked at the number of persons that were able to move from welfare to working onto self-sufficiency and not come back on the welfare roles, those two things tend to go hand in hand. That training, in and of itself, was kind of OK, but the other crucial aspect of that was to ensure that people were working too while they were getting some training.
And so in Texas, what I tried to do was to ensure that we were able to tie those two things together. We did not do as good a job as I had hoped that we were able to do, but, however, there has been a greater emphasis placed on addressing the needs of those persons. And, like I said, I think that we are seeing that across the entire country right now.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Let me just understand. You have to get the person in the program before you can train them. Right?
Mr. BOST. Yes.
Mrs. CLAYTON. So if they had a 3-month tenure in the program and we find a drastic reduction from 1.1 million persons to about 72,000, you said, prior toso we are not getting them in the door. Is that what you are saying?
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BOST. Well, I think that part of the problem was
Mrs. CLAYTON. Are they not applying for funds?
Mr. BOST. Well, I think it is a combination of all of those factors. I think that for some there is no interest in receiving those services. And I think you have some who start and then quit. Then I think you have some that are fairly successful. Then I think you have some who essentially do, indeed, kind of complete the program. So I think it is a variety of all of those factors.
And then one of the other things that I think is very important to note, too, when we looked at attempting to identify this group, and you made reference to it, some of them bring to the table a whole host of challenges for us that would not allow those programs to meet their needs in that 3-month period of time. And so I think it is a combination of all of those factors. I did not see, and I don't see nationally, that it is singularly just one thing that we have realized in terms of the significant drop.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Well, we will probably get another chance to go around and I will respect the time. OK. Well, the chairman is giving me some extra time. Is there a study you know or has there been an analysis of who these people are and if we overestimated what that population would be?
Mr. BOST. No. I am not aware
Mrs. CLAYTON. And to the extent we have this amount of money was based on having served those number of people in America, and now we find that roughly one-thirdwe are serving a little better than one-third as what we were serving just a year before. Did we overestimate those people or do we know who they were and now do we know who the ones we have are and what their needs are?
Mr. BOST. No.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. OK.
Mr. BOST. No. That is not true. I saw I think it was the Welfare Information Network did something, but I don't recall what it is. Allow me the opportunity to go back and for us to do some research and we will share that information with you. Because I do knowI think it is the Welfare Information Network had a page or a paper or something on this specific group of people, but, for the life of me, I don't remember what it said.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. Well, it may well be there is less need for as much educational resources because the population is no longer the real population. I don't know. But it does seem that we would be well-served to at least know the clientele we were designed to serve when this legislation was initially proposed. Or, even better, we ought to know the clientele we are currently serving so we would know how to fashion the remedies of education and training appropriately and how much. Because, again, I think that would be the kinds of things that would be helpful to us as we go forward trying to fashion the farm bill.
Mr. BOST. Congresswoman, I quite now agree with you, but the other factor that I would mention, I think, some of the feedback that we have gotten from the States and given that food stamps is coming up for reauthorization, it will afford us an opportunity, I believe, to talk about this at length, is affording the States some additional flexibility in terms of implementing this program to address the needs of this group of persons. From what we have heard from the States, in some instances, the issue of outreach and job training and job search is not a part of it. It doesn't count toward work. And so one of the things that I would want to explore is, as we go forward, is to look at some possible opportunities for tweaking this program that will allow the States an opportunity to serve more people.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Thank you.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mrs. Clayton. The gentleman from Maine, Mr. Baldacci.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BALDACCI. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and the ranking member. I want to thank you for holding the hearing and the importance that you have given it and the attention. It is very important. And I want to welcome Mr. Bost to the work in the Department and look forward to working with you on this very important area.
I really do appreciate the focus because in Maine we have a couple of programs that we have started up and it is an important one that I continually hear from shelters and food banks on in terms of the inability to be able to tap into the commodities that are available. And that is why I appreciate and support your legislation, Mr. Chairman, to be able to make those administrative changes.
I think the other area that I wanted to make the subcommittee aware of is that under the WIC Program, there is a program that allows them to use WIC vouchers to be able to purchase the goods and produce on farmer's markets and vegetable stands. And what I have heard back is that if we could model that more like the senior voucher program and increase the flexibilities there, we would be able to make that a much more effective program for that population also. Because we are experiencingand the whole thing is, I think, is in order to make the farmers and the consumers more closely bonded together, it has really helped out a lot of the small farmers that can't have access to the grocery stores to be able to have the opportunity to be able to work together to go into senior housing, to be able to, with the State Department of Agricultures in coordination and collaboration, some very exciting ventures.
And I know in Maine this summer, the seniors are really looking forward to opening up their congregate housing and the farmers are excited about the opportunity to display their produce and for them to select very nutritious home-grown, locally-grown vegetables and other types of goods from farmers, and being able to tap into a population that needs those also. So I would like to share that with the committee and maybe, at some point, be able to look at those examples of successes. We reauthorized the farm bill because that program needs to be reauthorized in the farm bill so that we can continue to do that.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I think that the comments that the chairman and the ranking member have been working on in terms of the storage, transportation, distribution issues, and flexibility issues, at the State level, that you have talked about, are things that we could really develop even a more comprehensive, effective package at helping people and helping farmers, which has been kind of the harder connects for me to be able to make.
As you talk about the amount of funds that are available and the amount that is not spent, I am reminded during the Welfare Reform debate that it was important that the money stay there for the people that were being reformed in that population. And that any waivers or flexibilities, I would like to think, would be on top of, not taking away from, the pool of resources that were going to be available for the population so that we would not be sort of cutting them off and then gradually seeing diminished opportunities for them to be able to strive and be the fullest that they can be.
So I caution you a little bitand I agree with you in terms of opening up the eligibility and flexibility, but I caution you that it should be on top of the resources that are already earmarked. It shouldn't be those resources themselves in increasing their flexibility, because those were supposed to go for the people. And we recognized, at that time, that this would be a very difficult proposition for the remaining people that were left and that did go in and out and in and out. And they would be the most challenged and have the most multi-faceted type of challenges to face from substance abuse and many other issues.
So we certainly want to make sure that the tools are there so that they can all be successful. I know that it is something that we want to make successful, because I supported it and it was a challenging time, but it was something that I thought we should be doing. So I wanted to make you mindful of some of the concerns in regards to the eligibility issue. And, again, thank the chairman for the hearing and the ranking member and for people who are working on this. Thank you.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman for his comments. In fact, we will have a broader hearing on food and nutrition issues that this subcommittee has some jurisdiction over. And your points are well-taken and you may want to raise those. And that will be next week. Let us see, the gentleman from Arkansas, Mr. Berry.
Mr. BERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I, too, want to thank you and the ranking member for holding this hearing. I would just encourage you to remember when I came to this town in 1993, the Department of Agriculture spelled rice, w-h-e-a-t, and I have been trying to change that ever since. I represent the largest rice-producing district in the United States. So I would encourage you to don't forget rice when you work on these fading programs. I think the programs are important and I think it should be included also. Thank you.
Mr. GOODLATTE. In Maine, that rice is spelled p-o-t-a-t-o, without an ''e'' on the end.
Mr. BALDACCI. A small potato.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Bost, would you support allowing the States to spend more of the employment and training funds on families with children as opposed to able-bodied 18- to 50-year-old people with no dependents? The reason I ask that is, we have been quite generous. The gentleman from North Carolina raised the point about making sure that we reach these folks, and I think it is a very valid point. But we have allowed the States to issue waivers and I think a great many of them have done so, so that individuals don't have to comply with that 3-month requirement. And still the funds are not heavily utilized.
Mr. BOST. Well, Mr. Chairman, I made reference to one of the waivers that the Department had approved in the State of Oregon and it allows Oregon to do that. I think that after we have an opportunity to review what has occurred, it will provide us with additional information so that we are able to draw some conclusions.
In addition to that, I think the timing for this is just perfect, I believe, because it will also afford us an opportunity to have further discussions about this as we take up the reauthorization of the Food Stamp Program. And so we have allowed a State to do that under a waiver. And I would be interested to see what kind of results we have gotten before I say absolutely.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Fair enough. Given that you have only been there since Monday, I think that is a fair answer. And do you have any other questions?
Mrs. CLAYTON. I do have one. I just wanted to say to Mr. Goodlatte that in North Carolina, thank you for understanding that rice also included sweet potatoes. And we all get our little commodities in here. The use of Education and Training funds from this part is understandable we need to use it better or redirect it, obviously. But TANIF has quite a bit of money for Education and Training money. How is that being used?
Mr. BOST. Is that TANIF?
Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes.
Mr. BOST. Oh. A variety of sources. I can talk about Texas and I can
Mrs. CLAYTON. Well, this is used for food stamps.
Mr. BOST. TANIF money in terms of food stamps?
Mrs. CLAYTON. Well, food stamps has education and training.
Mr. BOST. Correct.
Mrs. CLAYTON. TANIF has education and training.
Mr. BOST. Correct.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Are there programs or issues or activities or best practices that are being used there that can also be applicable to this group?
Mr. BOST. Oh. Got you. The short answer is probably. The issue is I hadn't really given it any thought. One of the issues that would have to be taken in consideration would be that in utilization of that TANIF monies for education and training, there is a longer window of opportunity to do some things as opposed to given the current stipulations on theto use E&T training and food stamps. And so I am sure that there would probably be some opportunities, but I haven't really thought about it, but that would have to be one of the considerations given. Because, like I said, you have a longer window of opportunity as opposed to a very short window.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. Is the education and training with a window only of the same length of time you are serving the clientele with food stamps?
Mr. BOST. Right.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Under the able-bodied
Mr. BOST. Right.
Mrs. CLAYTON. So you could only provide training for 3 months or you can do training longer. I am just trying to understand.
Mr. BOST. I don't think I am doing a very good job of articulating this.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Under the current able-bodied education and training component, would that individual be limited to education and training service 3 months as he or she is limited to food stamps or they could be longer?
Mr. BRALEY. No. Congresswoman Clayton, the person has 3 months of eligibility before they would be required to participate in employment and training. Once they are participating, they can stay on the program while they are going through the employment and training experience.
Mrs. CLAYTON. But the education and training experience is not limited to 3 months. It is the duration of the program.
Mr. BRALEY. I don't know if there is a limit. It is not 3 months. But there is no limit on time.
Mr. GOODLATTE. The 3 months is the time you can get the benefits without any kind of requirements attached to it.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK.
Mr. GOODLATTE. After that, as long as you are engaged in
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. Training, you get the food
Mr. GOODLATTE. And even employment. I mean, if your employment is generating an income below the guidelines, you can supplement that with food stamp benefits, as long as you are receiving them. But I guess what I am driving at with my question earlier is that there are many families that don't receive the TANIF benefits, the cash welfare benefits, who, because of their working part-time or working in a very low-paying position, do qualify for food stamps who could benefit from this employment and training money.
We are kind of getting away from my TEFAP bill. But nonetheless, the fact of the matterand I am finding ways to spend it other than on TEFAP.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Oh. More than one way to rob this bank.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, but if it is for the benefit of helping people who could increase their job skills and improve their ability to earn more funds, then eventually they will not be using it and the money will be back available for TEFAP again.
Mrs. CLAYTON. So am I understanding there is no education and training funds under the normal Food Stamp Program?
Mr. BRALEY. Twenty percent of the funds made available are open for use to help families and so on. Eighty percent are reserved for able-bodied adults without dependents. So there is a small amount of money and the States have advocated for some relaxation of the 80 percent requirement because they are having difficulty spending it. And that is one of the things that we are looking at in this Oregon project that is benefiting from a few waivers that we gave. And hopefully we will have their experience available as we take this up in the farm bill discussions.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Well, I was really following the chairman's trend, I thought. I might have misunderstood him. This population is a limited amount of population, the food stamp serves a much wider group of people, some who work, some who don't, but they are not in the able-bodied category. Would those individuals have the right for education and training?
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. BRALEY. They would be eligible to be served, but there is a very limited amount of funding for that. Twenty percent of the total funding provided for employment and training is available for that population.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Would the gentlewoman yield?
Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes.
Mr. GOODLATTE. I think what the gentleman is saying is that there is a disproportionate allocation of these funds. What is the utilization rate of that 20 percent available for those who are not ABAWDs?
Mr. BRALEY. I am told that it is very close to 100 percent. The one point I would make, these are 100-percent Federal funds. In other words, monies that don't have to be matched by the States. States can match employment and training. It is an allowable cost that is available for matching and some States do, indeed, provide additional funding of their own that is matched as an administrative cost in the program.
Mr. GOODLATTE. So we have utilization near 100 percent of that 20 percent, but of the remaining 80 percent, the utilization is one-third or less.
Mr. BRALEY. Yes. Of the new money coming in each year, it is a higher than one-third. But of the total available with carryover and new money, it is just about one-third, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. Any other questions? Mr. Under Secretary, thank you very much for your participation today and we will work closely with you as we move this legislation forward.
Mr. BOST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. And you are welcome to stay or slip out, whichever your schedule requires.
Mr. BOST. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. We would now like to invite the second panel to the table. Mr. David Weaver, executive director of the South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock, Texas, the home district of our full committee chairman, Chairman Combest; Mr. Ken Horne, the executive director of the Society of St. Andrew in Big Island, Virginia, who must live within a few hundred yards of my district, in Big Island, in Congressman Virgil Goode's district. Mr. Gary Gay, president of the American Commodity Distribution Association in Butner, North Carolina. And Mr. David Goodman, executive director of the Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa, California.
We will have to find out whose district that is. And Mr. Douglas O'Brien, director of public policy and research, America's Second Harvest, Chicago, Illinois.
I would like to welcome all of you to come up to the table there. That was your cue while I was introducing you to come up there. And I will also remind all of you that your written statements will be made a part of the record and we would be pleased to receive your testimony and ask that you limit it to 5 minutes, if you can. And we will start with Mr. Weaver. Welcome.
STATEMENT OF DAVID WEAVER, JR., EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOUTH PLAINS FOOD BANK, LUBBOCK, TX
Mr. WEAVER. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and, members of the committee. My name is David Weaver, Jr., and I am the executive director of the South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock, Texas. And I am also the president of the Texas Association of Second Harvest Food Banks.
Thank you for your invitation to come and visit with you before the subcommittee. If passed, H.R. 2185 will be a tremendous aid in the cause of feeding the hungry. Not only will it increase TEFAP commodity purchases, but it will also provide enabling funds to help food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries transport, distribute, and store TEFAP commodities.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The South Plain Food Bank serves 25 counties in west Texas. In addition, we serve the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank in San Angelo, who, in turn, serves another 10 counties. It is ironic that in our rural areas, many of the people that we serve have spent their lives working in agriculture. A large number of the individuals served by our food bank are women. And over the past 4 years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of working people that have turned to the food bank and our agencies for assistance.
The Greek poet Homer, once wrote ''Light is the task when many share the toil.'' In our community, we are fortunate that many organizations, businesses, and individuals have stepped forward to share in the task of feeding the hungry. Over 270 social agencies and churches work with us to distribute food throughout the south plains of Texas.
While it is easy to quantify the number of agencies and the hours of service, it is more difficult to quantify the intangibles that our agencies and our volunteers bring to the table. Sometimes, as you have noted, the care and interest and compassion they offer the hungry is just as important as the food itself.
Last year, the South Plains Food Bank distributed 6.7 million pounds of food coming from a variety of sources. Sixty percent of our food came from local donors, 10 percent through America's Second Harvest, and, finally, 30 percent of our food distribution, or 2.3 million pounds, was TEFAP.
TEFAP commodities provide a vital contribution. First is the nutritional quality of the food. When coupled with food from other sources, TEFAP commodities provide a solid foundation for creating well-balanced meals.
Second, TEFAP commodities provide a predictable source of food. Donation from other sources ebb and flow as the demands of business dictate. Currently, we are feeling the effects of a significant decrease in the quantity of food from local grocers and food distributors.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As the number of people turning to the food bank and our agency increases and our food base declines, TEFAP purchases authorized under H.R. 2185 will meet the urgent needs of the hungry in Lubbock and the Nation.
Increasing the availability of TEFAP commodities presents a couple of challenges for food banks. We are already experiencing some of these challenges with the TEFAP bonus product that we have begun receiving. First is having the adequate space to warehouse the extra TEFAP commodities. In our case, we are purchasing a warehouse that will provide an additional 30,000 square feet of storage.
A second challenge is the direct cost of distributing commodities. The South Plains is a land of wide-open spaces. On a weekly basis, we deliver TEFAP commodities, fresh produce, and other food to our rural agencies. A round trip for us is normally about 150 miles. When we go down to San Angelo, that becomes a 300-mile round trip.
Last year, there was a gap of about $110,000 between the handling fees we received from TEFAP sources and our actual distribution costs. As energy prices for utilities and fuel have increased, our distribution prices have gone up also. More TEFAP product means that we will be on the road more delivering commodities. And at the bottom line, I think this is good.
However, it is a struggle to raise the funds we need to fill in the gap not covered through existing handling fees. And I am also glad to say it is a challenge that we are meeting. We are committed to ensuring that any commodities we receive are handled and distributed in a safe and timely manner.
Every food bank is unique, reflecting the personality, challenges, and opportunities of the communities we serve. The Houston Food Bank serves a large, congested urban population, while the West Texas Food Bank in Odessa serves a vast geographic region wherein some counties the cows really do outnumber the people.
Recently, Houston was inundated with flooding of cataclysmic portions. Especially hard hit was some of Houston's poorest neighborhoods. On Monday, Brenda Kirk, the executive director of the Houston Food Bank, told me that it would be years before some of the victims of flooding fully recover from their economic losses. TEFAP commodities available as a result of H.R. 2185 will play an important role in helping these people regain food security as they rebuild their lives.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It has been a pleasure to share with your our experience at the South Plains Food Bank and in Texas. Feeding the hungry is a daunting task. Thank you for having the courage and the vision to undertake this worthy cause. Indeed, ''Light is the task when many share the toil.''
[The prepared statement of Mr. Weaver appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Weaver. Mr. Horne, welcome.
STATEMENT OF KEN HORNE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOCIETY OF ST. ANDREW, BIG ISLAND, VA
Mr. HORNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Clayton. I very much appreciate the opportunity to be with you and testify today about H.R. 2185. I think the first thing I want to do is commend you for taking this action. If this is successful, from my point of viewmy expertise is just in the area of produce, and so I will limit my remarks to that. It seems to me that increasing the ability, through the TEFAP program, of people to distribute and package produce, will pay off in any number of ways. You mentioned some of them already.
I want to say a word about the ability. I believe the bill calls for $40 million, not to exceed 10or 25 percent of that to go for transporting produce and donated foods. The first thing I wanted to say is that that is entirely within the realm of possibility that we can do that wisely and well.
In my own organization, for instance, last year, we did maybe 30 million pounds of produce. This year, we will finish at about 40 million unless the kingdom comes in the meantime. And the difference has nothing whatsoever to do with the supply. It has to do with the amount of money we are able to raise. The whole show in salvaging produce is trying to find a way to package it and transport it.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And inasmuch as the packaging and transportation of produce and delivery of same to food banks and feeding installations all over the country is the primary aim of TEFAP, to be able to use some significant amount of funds in the TEFAP program to get that done, will essentially deliver food to these agencies for cost to the Government of about a nickel a pound, which makes an awful lot of sense to me and I think everybody else at the table. And so I commend you for taking this action.
I wanted to also to say a word about the advisability of building into TEFAP, if not now, at least in the future, some flexibility in the way that these monies are used. It seems to me that following up on the faith-based initiative and some other things that are going on, that the packaging and transporting of produce can be used as a powerful lever to help private sector agencies that are trying to get their feet on the ground expand successful programs in produce and other kinds of food gleaning and start new ones that essentially, once they are up and running, become independent of the Government.
I think there is an opportunity here for us in the next several years to leverage Federal monies and create possibilities of food salvage and programs and food salvage that do not now exist and expand ones that are successful into the future. I want to use a couple of for instances. I know that you folks are familiar with an awful lot of programs.
There is very successful gleaning organizations in the State of Arizona and another one in California Food Link, where a lot of people are familiar with that. There is no compelling reason why those kinds of statewide programs should not be done in New Mexico and Texas and Alabama and Mississippi and Florida and on and on. What is lacking, quite often, even with organizations as large as ours is seed money to start that kind of thing. Inasmuch as there is an opportunity for us in the future to work with Government in creating replications of these successful programs, I think we ought to get some thought to doing that out into the future.
Our own program I use as an example. We are in the process right now of creating a national gleaning network. We last year gleanedand when I say gleaning, I don't mean all kinds of food salvage. I mean, actually going into the fields and picking stuff and delivering it to food banks and food pantries, and so forth. Last year, we had about 17 people employed in that; a good portion of them in the State of North Carolina and Virginia, but also in Texas and Florida and Mississippi. And we did about 10 million pounds of food that way and employed the use of about 20,000 volunteers.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the things that distributing food can do for us is to help us leverage seed money we have gotten from the faith-based community to expand that network to the point where it becomes a national thing. We are in the midst of doing that right now. And when that is up and running, it will be financially independent of the Government. It will also employ the use of probably 70, 80, 90,000 church volunteers and volunteers from civic clubs and so forth. And we will salvage in the neighborhood of 30 or 40 million pounds of food every year, essentially, from the Government's point of view, for free. If that can be done, that would be an excellent thing.
In closing, I just want to say how much I commend your efforts in this regard and I very much appreciate this opportunity to be with you today. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Horne appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you very much, Mr. Horne. And we do want to find a way to support your program as a part of this effort. Mr. Gay, we are pleased to have your testimony.
STATEMENT OF GARY GAY, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN COMMODITY DISTRIBUTION ASSOCIATION, BUTNER, NC
Mr. GAY. Good morning, Chairman Goodlatte, and, Congresswoman Eva Clayton.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I just
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mrs. Clayton wants to say a word.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I do want to acknowledge Mr. Gay as director of our commodity program from North Carolina and we welcome you to the hearing.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GAY. Thank you. Thank you for yet another opportunity to testify about The Emergency Food Assistance Program and, in particular, The Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act of 2001.
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture is responsible for distributing nearly 34 million pounds of USDA commodities annually to programs such as TEFAP and the National School Lunch Program. I am also president of the American Commodity Distribution Association, ACDA.
ACDA is a non-profit professional trade association devoted to the improvement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's commodity distribution system. ACDA members include State agencies that distribute USDA-purchased commodities, agricultural organizations, recipient agencies, such as schools, soup kitchens, and allied organizations, such as nonprofit anti-hunger groups. ACDA members are responsible for distributing over 1.5 billion pounds of USDA-purchased commodities annually to programs such as TEFAP and the National School Lunch Program.
Chairman Goodlatte, I would like to start by commending you for your commitment to improving TEFAP and for introducing H.R. 2185. Over the past decade, TEFAP has evolved from a surplus distribution program into an effective nutrition assistance program that is an integral part of our country's food assistance safety net. Along with TEFAP's success, however, we have found that there is an unmet need for nutrition assistance, and that the program needs additional resources to continue to be effective.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act would improve the program by supplementing its budget with up to $40 million. Of this amount, up to $10 million could be allocated to offset storage and distribution costs.
As you know, the level of TEFAP commodity purchases has varied significantly over the last decade. The $100 million in mandatory commodity purchases, which was required by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, ensures a constant and predictable flow of commodities and eliminates the reliance on the yearly appropriations process.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to these funds, TEFAP has received a significant amount of bonus commodities over the last several years. The additional assistance proposed by H.R. 2185 would help States and local agencies meet the growing demand for TEFAP, and it could not have come at a better time. It is very possible that demand for TEFAP will grow significantly if the economy slows down. Indeed, the demand for TEFAP increased significantly over the last decade despite the expanding economy.
In addition to increasing funding for food purchases, TEFAP is in desperate need of additional storage and distribution funds, and the additional funding proposed by H.R. 2185 would be put to good use. The volume of food distributed through the program has more than doubled over the past 2 years, largely due to the amount of bonus commodities that have been purchased by USDA, and distribution and storage costs have increased significantly.
Importantly, the bill would give the Secretary of Agriculture flexibility in determining how much of the $40 million should be allocated to offset storage and distribution costs. I like to believe that it is a prudent approach to providing storage and distribution funding because it would give the Secretary the flexibility to ensure that the money is used in the most efficient way, which can change from year to year. In years when a significant volume of bonus commodities moves through the program, the full $10 million may be needed to help offset storage and distribution costs. If the bonus volume is low, it may be more appropriate to direct most of the money to food purchases.
I also want to express ACDA's support and thanks for the provision that would eliminate the term administrative from the TEFAP statute. As you know, the statute authorizes up to 50 million annually to pay for the distribution of TEFAP commodities, but the wording of the statute has resulted in this account being considered administrative spending. The term administrative, however, sends the wrong message and sounds as if the money is being used to underwrite vast, State-run bureaucracy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the change you have proposed would more accurately reflect how this money is used to cover storage and distribution costs. Virtually all of this money is passed on to receiving agencies, such as community action agencies and food banks, to help offset the cost of storing and transporting commodities.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As the subcommittee moves forward with its consideration of H.R. 2185, I would like to suggest including an additional, no-cost amendment to the TEFAP statute that would make the program easier to operate for State and local agencies. The statute should be amended to allow States to carry over a portion of their storage and distribution funds from one fiscal year to the next.
Currently, agencies are required to return unobligated funds at the end of the fiscal year, which makes it difficult to help pay for distribution of food that is purchased by USDA in one fiscal year and but not delivered to States until the first quarter of the following fiscal year. This problem has been resolved for other nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, but it continues to hinder the effective operation of TEFAP. To fix this problem, ACDA recommends that the statute be amended to allow storage and distribution funds to remain available until expended.
Mr. Chairman, again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I would be happy to answer any questions you or Mrs. Clayton would have. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gay appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Gay. Mr. Goodman, you have to tell me whose congressional district you are from.
Mr. GOODMAN. I am from Congressman Mike Thompson's district. In fact, we share the exact same service territory.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Very good. Well, we are pleased to have you and we are also pleased to have Mr. Thompson on our committee.
Mr. GOODMAN. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF DAVID GOODMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REDWOOD EMPIRE FOOD BANK, SANTA ROSA, CA
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODMAN. So good morning. My name is David Goodman and I am the executive director of the Redwood Empire Food Bank in northern California. We are located 55 miles north of San Francisco and serve an area 320 miles north, all the way to the Oregon border.
The Redwood Empire Food Bank is just one of many food banks in California who are now serving as part of the safety net for hungry Californians. In fact, California food banks now distribute more than 184 million meals each year. Our food is distributed through 5,000 community organizations throughout the State and 2.5 million people receive our services every month. I have been asked today to comment on whether we should reallocate $40 million to purchase TEFAP commodities.
I would like to start by saying that TEFAP commodities are some of the best foods that food banks distribute. Many of the commodities are staple foods, such as rice, that serves populations in a cross-cultural way, such as our Latino and Asian populations that greatly appreciate the rice. The frozen meats and tomato sauce make for great stews and when they come with commodities of pasta, this certainly provides a hearty meal for a low-income family. And, lastly, when we have our rice cereal and our dried milk and our raisins, children get a great start to their day.
The key to a successful TEFAP distribution, however, is entirely dependent on volunteers. And each year, our food bank receives more than 48,000 hours of volunteer time in order to make our operation successful. That is the equivalent of 24 full-time staff people. Without the help of volunteers, the stability of any one of our 19 TEFAP distribution sites throughout our county is in jeopardy.
It has been said that nothing in this world is for free, and the same holds true for donated foods and TEFAP commodities. This year, the Government will provide our food bank with 39 percent of the revenue that is necessary to operate this program. And as non-profit organizations, we have the luxury of not turning a profit, but we are a non-profit business and we cannot afford to lose money. The lack of funding leaves desperately needed food languishing in our warehouse. In order to take full advantage of the commodities that you have to offer, we need sufficient funding to make sure they can get out into the community.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC For a moment, I would like to touch on food stamps and the role that they have in association with TEFAP commodities. The TEFAP commodities, as you mentioned before, are really there to meet an emergency need. However, the reality is that they are serving a chronic hunger need in our country. There is nothing temporary about it. The fact that TEFAP distributions are run entirely by volunteers means that they take place in times of the day and week when people who are trying to get back to work cannot make it. Often times, they take place in the middle of the day.
And the working poor are placed in a difficult situation of either foregoing those desperately needed commodities that they or their family needs, or asking to leave work, which may or not be possible, so that they can stand in line at a soup kitchen or at a food pantry. So changes are needed in the Food Stamp Program that will effectively support low-wage workers. Food stamps serve as an economic bridge, a nutrition enhancement, or a financial stabilizer for working Americans.
I would argue that the Food Stamp Program is the greatest insurance that people entering the workforce will, in fact, leave Government-assisted food programs. That is to say that a person in a job who doesn't need to leave work to go stand in line for food has the opportunity to better themselves at work in front of their employers and receive promotions which eventually means that they will receive more money and get off Government assistance.
The Food Stamp Program is our greatest defense against hunger. However, in California, only 50 percent of the people who qualified for food stamps are participating in the program. We have some serious issues that need to be addressed. And if we could get the additional 50 percent involved in California in food stamps, we would represent another $1.5 billion in the California economy. And in my county alone, that is a $6 million increase in commerce, which, in turn, helps the farmers out at the retail marketplaces people go to seek more producefarmers benefit.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to conclude by saying that I do believeor the question is, should we reallocate funding to purchase more TEFAP commodities? Of course we should. Somebody's mother, father, grandmother, or child is hungry today and food banks need to respond to their needs. However, this is only the beginning of the solution to helping America's hungry. The Government needs to recognize that food banks play a critical role in supporting hungry people and that they need to invest in the operations that we provide.
The face of hunger has changed in our country. A few years ago we probably would be here talking about the homeless. Well, I can assure you that hunger still has a hold of America's homeless, but it has now reached out with its other hand and it has grabbed a hold of working families.
As hunger-relief workers and policymakers, we must think about how each person is impacted by the lack of funding or ineffective legislation. The very fact that the Government is working with food banks means that we share the same belief that no American should go hungry.
On behalf of 2 1/2 million Californians who receive our services every month, and the thousands of concerned citizens who would like to see hunger end in their community, I am asking for this committee's commitment in increasing commodity purchases, ensuring that food banks are supported for their efforts on the local level, and that you pass legislation that exists both now, as well as in the reauthorization of the food stamps, that will effectively support all Americans living in hunger. Your commitment to these goals will be a great step in building a partnership to end hunger. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Goodman appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Goodman. Mr. O'Brien, we are delighted to have you back with the committee. Welcome.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS O'BRIEN, DIRECTOR, PUBLIC POLICY AND RESEARCH, AMERICA'S SECOND HARVEST, CHICAGO, IL
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Congresswoman Clayton as well. I want to express the gratitude of the America's Second Harvest for the opportunity to present testimony on the issue of The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
I want to thank you for introducing this legislation again this year. We believe it is very important and necessary and we urge its enactment in this Congress. I am also honored to be on the panel with two of our network affiliates, David Goodman and David Weaver. Those food banks and 200 others in our network provided food assistance to an estimated 26 million low-income people last year. And, as you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, those food banks provide food assistance and other services to church pantries, soup kitchens, and other agencies of which 70 percent are faith-based.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, in recent years, demand for food assistance in our network has increased. The range of demand nationwide is anywhere between 14 and 36 percent. As the GAO reported in 1999, the demand for food assistance by low-income families has increased in recent years, indicating that the commensurate drop in food stamp participation is not solely the result of a strong economy. In fact, the GAO went on to say the need for food assistance has not diminished. Rather, needy individuals rely on sources of assistance other than food stamps.
To meet the growing demand for emergency food assistance, our network relies heavily on the generosity of the food industry and the agricultural sector. Our network distributed more than 1.7 billion pounds of privately donated food and grocery products last year. Despite the widespread support of the food industry and the farmers, private donations of food have not kept up with the request for emergency food assistance.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, a recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled, ''The Cupboard's Bare,'' reported that the Greater Philadelphia Good Bank has shelvesand I quote ''has shelves so bare they look as if they have been swept clean by locusts.''
Critical to our work is The Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is the cornerstone in the charitable efforts to feed America's hungry and is the bridge between public and private hunger-relief efforts.
As you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, and, Congresswoman Clayton, that TEFAP serves two very important functionshigh quality and nutritious food gets to needy Americans, and it also serves an agricultural support function.
I would also remind the committee that in rural areas TEFAP is even more important where food banks serving rural communities often lack any significant retail grocery store base, in which they can draw private donations of food. As one rural food bank director summed up her importance of TEFAP to me, ''Without TEFAP, I would not have a food bank right now.''
American's Second Harvest believes The Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act will help strengthen TEFAP and will help food banks and other charities that serve the poor do what we do best, and that is, feed the hungry.
Your bill, Mr. Chairman, as you have already stated, increases commodity purchases by $30 million. That means that we will be able to provide more than 32 million additional meals to people in need when they turn to charities. Almost as critically important as increasing the food donations, you will help charities receive and distribute commodities through a $10 million grant to the States for storage and distribution.
I also want to thank the Congresswoman and the chairman for their work yesterday to increase TEFAP distribution and processing funds for this fiscal year. That will enable us to move roughly 400 million pounds of potatoes that are available, a portion, 900 million pounds, of apples that are privately available, truckloads of sweet potatoes, onions, and other commodities.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While surplus commodities have been rising for the last decade, funding for distribution and storage costs remained relatively unchanged at $45 million. As the director of the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank describes this windfall and dilemma paradox, that David Goodman also addressed, is that food banks need to be around today and tomorrow. And while we are happy to take the food, we also need to know that we won't be making a bad business decision.
As the Agriculture Committee begins the reauthorization process, we believe H.R. 2185 is an important step in the right direction. It provides increased TEFAP food spending by simply creating another allowable use of unspent and unobligated Food Stamp Employment and Training funds. It increases TEFAP only if the funds remain unspent after States have had an opportunity to apply for them and the funds have been reallocated.
America's Second Harvest has consistently urged the States to use all Food Stamp E&T funds available to them. We regularly publicize food stamp options, including waivers for unemployment and labor shortage areas, and E&T funding, through our annual research report we conduct with the Food Research and Action Center. With our strong support for the Food Stamp Program and the E&T funding, we also recognize that it would be a bad policy to allow unspent and unobligated funds to roll over year after year when unspent funds in that account could also be used to assist local hunger relief activities.
The TEFAP commodity provisions of The Emergency Food Assistance Enhancement Act will put food into food banks, will provide an additional 30 million meals to children, the elderly, the homeless, and working poor families in need. America's Second Harvest strongly endorses this legislation, and we urge that it be enacted in this Congress. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. O'Brien appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. O'Brien. I thank you all for your testimony. Let me start by asking each of you whether or not you support the specific legislation that has been introduced. We will start with you, Mr. O'Brien.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes. Of course, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Goodman.
Mr. GOODMAN. Yes. Of course, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. You don't have to answer the same way. Mr. Gay.
Mr. GAY. Ditto.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Horne.
Mr. HORNE. Why not?
Mr. WEAVER. Yes. We would endorse that. Yes.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Very good. Very good. Well, I am very encouraged by those answers. Mr. Weaver, do you have any reason to believe that the problems you face in your area that you have described are unique?
Mr. WEAVER. We feel like they are unique, but I think there are problems that every food bank director I talk to has to address. I mean, the issue of distribution costsI was mentioning Odessathey really do
Mr. GOODLATTE. You have some longer distances than some of theand distribution is a problem everywhere.
Mr. WEAVER. Right. And for them, there is not a large population base. But we are committed to serving every county in Texas. And so the food bank director there has set up a system, and it has been costly for her to do that. And I was thinking about Houston and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They don't have the distances, but they have congested traffic problems. So I know those transportation and distribution costs are real challenges.
And then in our facility I mentioned the warehousing space. And I know, again, in Houston, as we have looked at what additional commodities would do, that, they are concerned about where are we going to put this stuff. They are going to find the space, but that is going to be a challenge for us.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. How does your food bank receive its TEFAP commodities?
Mr. WEAVER. Well, in Texas, we have a program called TEXCAP, the Texas Commodity Assistance Program, that has been set up. And the food banks in Texas receive commodities through the Texas Department of Human Services. And this was actually set up when Mr. Bost was the Commissioner there in Texas. But we work through the Department of Human Services. And it has really been a really good partnership.
Our food bank, personally, was real concerned 4 or 5 years ago, when we began distributing commodities, that there was going to be a lot of unnecessary red tape. And we have been really pleased in working with the Department of Human Services that they said, there are some things we have to do. But they started looking at their systems and saying, well, we may not have to do this. And so it has allowed us to maintain some of the flexibility that we have had.
We were concerned that some of our agencies would not want to distribute USDA commodities because of their strong beliefs in separation of church and State. And in a real small number of cases, that they have withdrawn from us as an agency, although they still support us in other ways. But, for the most part, it has worked out really well. Does that answer your question?
Mr. GOODLATTE. It does. Let me be a little more specific, too, though. Do you request certain commodities or do you have a standing order or do you get what they give you, or how does that work?
Mr. WEAVER. The commodity purchasing agent there in Texas will send out a list of available commodities and they will do a survey of what we want. We basically have a budget of so much money per quarter that we can spend and we can look at the available commodities. And in our case, we usually lean towards going for lower-priced commodities and trying to get a greater volume of food. I know some of the food banks will look at it and they will look at the protein items and they will say, well, we will spend most of our budget on that.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But for us, it is difficult to come up with the volume of food that we need to service our agencies. And so our hope is that if we can provide a quantity of food, that that will provide enough relief to the agencies that they can go out and perhaps find some of the protein items that they need.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Can you quantify in any way the number of additional families you would be able to service with this kind of an increase in the overall TEFAP program?
Mr. WEAVER. I know that right now if retail stores had the turnover that we had, they would be really happy, because as soon as food comes in, it goes out. Right now, we probably serve about 5,000 families a month, and I would anticipate that with additional food that that would probably go up 15 or 20 percent for us. And that is just a wild guess because right now, I am at capacity in terms of, people are taking it as quick as they can get it.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Very good. Mr. Horne, can you describe to us how the gleaning process works?
Mr. HORNE. Yes, sir. I can. In a number of different ways having to do with produce. There is some crops that, if they are not perfect, they are not picked. In other words, they are left in the field for cosmetic reasons or for reasons of the market. Sometimes you just produce so much it doesn't pay you to go and pick it. Field gleaning is the term we use for that. We organize groups of volunteers. You go in and essentially you become a harvesting crew and you pick the stuff and package it up and deliver it to the local food bank or soup kitchen or other kind of feeding installation.
In other circumstances having to do with produce, there are some crops that are harvested in bulk and then graded to separate the grade A's from the grade B's or whatever. Those kinds of crops you get as a donation from a packing shed from the farmer himself and you generally load thepackage those up somehow in bags or boxes or bins or what and ship them in tractor-trailer sized quantities to food banks and soup kitchens and so on, and so forth. And those are the two primary ways that you go about salvaging produce. Does that answer your question there?
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Yes. It does, indeed. Do you have any figures on how much food you glean each month or each year?
Mr. HORNE. Do you mean just our organization?
Mr. GOODLATTE. Just your organization. Yes
Mr. HORNE. This year we will do about 40 million pounds across the year. So however much that is a month.
Mr. GOODLATTE. That is 3 1/3 million pounds a month.
Mr. HORNE. There you go.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Now, what percentage of the overall gleaning effort in the country do you think your organization represents?
Mr. HORNE. I don't know. Second Harvest, it seems to me, as far as produce is concernedAmerica's Second Harvest has a produce arm and they areI want to say they will probably surpass our poundage from your office in Chicago this year, I should think. It is a little bit difficult to say because we ship so much into Second Harvest banks. And so you get people counting in different ways. I would say their produce program, as well as I know, is comparable in size to ours as far as national distribution is concerned. Their food bankssome of them run their own gleaning operations locally. So when you add those in, the poundage goes up. But as far as national distribution, I would think they probably do 40 million pounds a year or so out of their office in Chicago.
An additional comment I would want to make is that this TEFAP expansion fund for distribution is so important because the amount of food that is gleanable this way is functionally limitless. Mr. O'Brien mentioned, what, 900,000 pounds of apples and 400 million pounds of potatoes, et cetera, et cetera. That supply functionally in this country has no limit and so we can salvage a great deal more than is being done now if we can figure out how to package it and transport it essentially.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. How would our bill help you in that regard?
Mr. HORNE. Inasmuch as there is more money in the TEFAP system to reimburse an organization like Second Harvest or ourselves for packaging and transporting donated produce, then we can distribute in the State. As long as we can get that bill reimbursed for us, we can go on and do more of that. We have worked with North Carolina, for instance, in that way, for an awfully long time. It has been a very successful and productive relationship for both of us.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Now, what is your view of the President's faith-based and community initiative? I know your organization itself is faith-based.
Mr. HORNE. Yes, sir. I am very much in favor of that. I think it is a marvelous opportunity. I am a very practical sort of fellow. I think inasmuch as the faith-based community has as its marching orders, if you will, the feeding of the hungry and the clothing of the naked and so on and so forth, that is what we do under orders from our boss who is bigger than your boss in this regard.
Inasmuch as a faith-based community does that sort of thing and is good at that sort of thing, I think it makes fundamental sense for the Government to work with these people. And I think the bottom line is services rendered to poor and disadvantaged people that gets the job done in the most efficient way we can do it, because I don't want my tax money spent less efficiently than it can be. And inasmuch as Government and faith-based community can work together to deliver those services efficiently and well, I think it is a no-brainer and I think we ought to do as much of it as we can.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, thank you. Your boss is our boss.
Mr. HORNE. I understand.
Mr. GOODLATTE. The gentlewoman from North Carolina, Mrs. Clayton.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. I wanted to pursue the relationship that, Mr. Gay, you would have with Mr. Horne or any other non-profit group. I know a little bit about the State agency. But would all theand all the States pretty much run the same way, as we have described Texas, that the bulk of the foods would be delivered to an entity in the State, whether it is called Health and Human Service or, in your case, the North Carolina Commodities Program, be delivered and then you, the State agency, would be responsible for transporting the food to them and they would, therefore, be reimbursed through your agency of the monies you get from the Federal Government or how does that work?
Mr. GAY. That is correct. Some agencies within the State Government would be the lead agency to handle the TEFAP program administratively.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. So the bill that the chairman has, which, by the way, is a good bill, and I support the bill. I just have just a little tweaking as the word calledI think a little tweaking with it. Do you like that word, tweaking? I got that word from somebody down there. But it is a very good bill and we find to wayand it is good for its intent. But it is also good because it provides a particular need in terms of administration, the storage, and the transportation.
So the question I would have, the administrative costs, does that speak to the needs that the non-profits say they need when they are asking for reimbursement? Is storage and transportation the main issues that we need?
Mr. GAY. In a roundabout way, yes. I guess you could factor a lot of other costs in of just taking food into a warehouse, the utility part of a cooler/freezer. You may need to expand to get a larger cooler or freezer to take because there are more frozen commodities coming now.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Well, he had storage. And I am assuming that storage means whether they need to freeze it or you need to have it in a dry place doesn't make any difference.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GAY. Right. But I guess you would say that would affect utility bills if by
Mrs. CLAYTON. I see. I understand.
Mr. GAY [continuing]. And freezing, that type of thing. And the transportation costsfinding somebody to drive a truck. It may not be able to get a volunteer to do that, especially if it is an 18-wheeler or something like that.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Right.
Mr. GAY. So it is a lot of other costs that would be factored in. But the storage and distribution would be your two main factors.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. It saysI had it a few minutes ago. It says, direct and indirect costs related to the processing. So it seems to me that talks about moving goods from one place to another.
Mr. GAY. Right.
Mrs. CLAYTON. And storage, certainly, can include any type of storage and transporting and distributing to eligible recipients and areas. The other question I had, I was struck by both in the testimony from Mr. Weaver, as well as the testimony from Mr. Goodman, that thethese additional funds would essentially enable you to free up other funds to do some good in the things. And one of the things you cited, Mr. Weaver, was trainingwas education and training.
Mr. WEAVER. Yes.
Mrs. CLAYTON. And that isI thoughtI was struck by that.
Mr. WEAVER. Well, we have several programs. In fact, we have received a grant through the Community Food Security Program to do some job training with at-risk young adults and we have leveraged that locally with some additional State funding. And so we are taking some at-risk kids this summer and we are working with them, working on their work ethic andbut training them in gardening and farming techniques and looking at developing an entrepreneurial spirit. We have an apple orchard in association with our food bank, and we distribute apples. But we are saying we can take some of those apples and start making some specialty products that these young people could be selling.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We have also been working with the Texas Workforce Commission to do community kitchens training, where we are taking tens of clients. Primarily we are working in partnership with Texas Tech University in their hotel and restaurant management program. And about every 12 weeks, we are taking 10 to 15 people and putting them to a program in association with some of the chefs and cooks at Tech and then they are having practical placement at the food bank, working in our kitchen and in other hotel restaurant places. And so far, everybody that has gone through that program has been employable. They have gone on to jobs where they are getting benefits.
And we had a neat call the other day, because this lady called and she was taking her first day of paid vacation. And she was just so proud of that fact. Because when she started our program, she was literally living in a car with her two kids. She worked with us and with the people at Texas Tech and has developed these job skills and the skills she needs for the job, but also just the skills to function out in society. So that has been really good.
Whatthe TEFAP administrative funds or the handling fees would allow us to use more money for programs like that. We do community gardens in our food bank and it is always a struggle to come up with the balance of where do we find the funds to do all these things. And so that would allow us to grow in some other areas.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I was just wondering also, and I guess, Mr. Gay, are you eligible, as a State agency, to request from the Federal Government education and training funds? Could you get a waiver to use some of those funds to make available to your non-profit for education and training if they were in there?
Mr. GAY. I believe so. I believe we could.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. So that is an existing possibility with the funds as they are constructed now.
Mr. GAY. That is correct.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. One other question, Mr. Goodman. You said that you worked with the Food Stamp Program. Obviously, one of the recognition of the fact is that why the lines have increased in our food banks and many of our churches and non-profits are increasingly seeing more people is that the food stamp is also going down. I mean, the number of people going off of welfare, good news, have gone off of welfare, but we still have a large number of working poor who are eligible for food stamps to supplement their income. And you said you worked with the food stamp. How do you tie the two together?
Mr. GOODMAN. We work locally with our food stamp office to try to do some outreach to make sure that those people who qualify know that they qualify. There was something that was mentioned earlier that I did want to mention when we were talking about why it is that people are not participating in the program, and I just wanted to mention a couple of things. As I was flying out here, I was thinking about it.
The people in California have to report monthly on their income guidelines. It is the equivalent of doing your IRS forms on a monthly basis, which I don't think any of us here would want to be able to do. California's application, up until very recently, and they are working on it now, was 17 pages long. We have asked people to go back to work and leave welfare, the hours that they are available to go there are during working hours. So we are encouraging the State to open up their hours, their county offices, et cetera, to open up their hours for weekends, for evenings, where people have a greater accessibility to the office.
And then we have some ridiculous types of issues, such as an asset cap on the automobile. That, in California, is $4,650. If you own a car that is worth $4,650 or more, you don't get food stamps. So what you get is a jalopy to get to work. And studies have proven that access to a reliable vehicle, reliable transportation, is a key indicator in people making it back to work. That especially takes place in a community like mine, where we are both urban, as well as rural. If you don't have quality transportation and you are in a rural setting, you are not going to get to work.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, last, the one thing I wanted to mention is that in California, the way they measure California success is by error rate. Instead of how well is the State doing, you get dinged if you have an error rate with in the State and distribute any food stamps. So there is a disincentive for our caseworkers to process complicated applications that must come in on a monthly basis.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. I remember when thewe were going through the welfare reform and it was churches and non-profits who had predicted that the way we were going, we are going to increase their clientele beyond their abilities. And I think what we have found is that the structure has created a clientele, obviously, that you have flexibility to serve. The system has almost pushed people to your doors. But, at the same time, they are programs out there that the people are not using like the food stamp. And we have to find a way where we reduce the application, obviously. I was very pleasedMr. Bost told me, in Texas, they had found a way to reduce that from theyou said, 17 to a very simple one or two pages. So apparently some States are trying to find a flexibility to make it easy for people to make the legitimate request and hopefully that will happen. Mr. Chairman, I think that is all I have of the panel. And I want to thank the panel for all of their representation. And, more importantly, I want to thank them for leadership in their individual communities.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. We have been joined by the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Stenholm, of Texas. Do you have any questions for the panel?
Mr. STENHOLM. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Sorry I am late getting here. But, Mr. Weaver, you indicate that additional funds from TEFAP will free up donated money to provide services for low-income people, such as job training. How does or would this differ from the current Employment and Training Program currently operated by USDA?
Mr. WEAVER. I think at the local level, there are opportunities that we have outside of the USDA funding. I think youI am not sure if you were in here when I was talking about thewe have a grant from the Community Food Security, which comes through USDA Community Food Security Programs. And we are taking advantage of that. But we are also working with Texas Tech and some local folks to do job training there.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC At our food bank warehouse, we kind of see ourselves as a job trainer. We have people that are coming to us that are coming through a correctional facility, but before they can get out of that facility, they need to have a job. And so we work with those people on developing warehouse skills and, in turn, we hire some of those people. And so if we had additional funds, we might be able to work with some of those people in some different ways and try to leverage the dollars that we are getting through USDA through the TEFAP Program and through other programs like the Community Food Security Grant.
Mr. STENHOLM. So you wouldn't see this as being duplicative. It would be more of an add-on.
Mr. WEAVER. Yes. It would be an add-on because right now, we are spending a fair amount of money to distribute TEFAP commodities. We receive some handling fees, but our actual costs exceed what those handling fees cover. And so this would free up some of the money that we have raised from private donors for other places to use in some other creative ways.
Mr. STENHOLM. A question for all of you. If you have had time, as yet, to answer this question. But yesterday, this committee took some action and, in some cases, in particular areas, it deals with the so-called specialty crops, which is a fancy word for food. We are plowing some new ground, or at least suggesting it now for floor action, of sayingand we are block-granting to each of the 50 States, monies to be used for purchase of commodities in the belief that that is the only way that we can expeditiously, i.e., get it done in fiscal year 2001. Get the commodities purchased and in position to be distributed to the hungry, to school lunchroom programs, to any and all.
Have you had a chance to look at this concept yet to where you have got any concerns? Are we on the right track or wrong track? If you have, I would love to hear it. If not, well, we would welcome them as I anticipate you will be looking at this. Because we are going to depend on you and the advice of people like you, and I know our States will, as to how we might short-term this. But then as we get into July and the farm bill and the nutrition title of the bill, if there is some merit to this, we obviously want to consider it on a permanent basis. But any comments?
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. WEAVER. I am not really familiar with the bill. But I know in Dalhart, there has been a surplus of potatoes. And I don't know if you have ever met Harold Smith, who is a farmer around Olton, but it just breaks his heart because he has raised all these potatoes and there is not any place going that he can go forgo with them.
I know we have been talkingworking with the Society of St. Andrew's there in Texas to get some of those potatoes. And through our dehydration plant, a lot of those have been donated to us and we are using those. But there is a lot that is going wasted. It really does break your heart when you see that there is a surplus out there and you know that
Mr. STENHOLM. It breaks our heart, but also breaks pocketbooks, too.
Mr. WEAVER. That is true. And so we have been listening to these people. And to see thatbecause right now, we are going up and we are getting some of that produce for the dehydration plant, but, at the same time, these guys from Dalhart are trying to get their sheds ready for the next year and they are taking it to the cattle yards and stuff like that. We are able to do some kind of a handling fee with them, which helps them recover some of their costs. I think that would be a tremendous boon for those people, at least in the west Texas area.
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. O'Brien.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes, Mr. Stenholm. I think that the committee would help the States and not-for-profits work together to get the food both purchased and distributed as quicklywithin this fiscal year if the committee could have report language or some accompanying language that encouraged States that this is an allowable use. There are right now 19 States in which there are State commodity programs. In Ohio, as a tomato-growing State, for example, the State buys tomatoes and distributes to needy Ohioans. I think this fits within that context.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think if the committee tells States we want you to useI think North Carolina is getting a million dollars plus, California, 50-some-odd million dollars. If the States know that you want the money spent and it can go and should go to charitable feeding programs and after-school programs and summer feeding programs, I think the States will do that. But I think the guidance, if that is your intent, needs to be made clear.
Mr. STENHOLM. It would be very helpful if you would make that recommendation formally to the committee as you have stated here to the subcommittee. I believe Mr. Goodlatte and Mrs. Clayton would be very interested in working with the chairman, and certainly I am willing to working with the chairman to getand we are plowing new ground and we are doing it in a rather hurried-up fashion. And therefore any knowledge that you might bring from your own State perspectives and then the other States that you are here representing, the interest you represent, would be very helpful.
Mr. GOODLATTE. I thank the gentleman and I think his comments are very pertinent. And not only do we want to increase the size of this program, but we want to make it work more effectively and you have all identified that as a problem that you have in that, sometimes there is a lot of food out there available to be distributed to people who really need it, but that mere availability or our even spending more money to buy it from farmers, which is certainly a big part of this program, by itself, isn't enough. You have got to have a way to distribute it. You have got to have a way to get it to your locations and then get it out to all the people that helped to distribute it for you.
I think food banks are a marvelously efficient way of doing that in many respects because of the tremendous number of volunteers that you have that, as I indicated earlier, not only will help get that food to the people who need it, but also find out what other things they might need some help with. It is a real community, neighbor-to-neighbor type of approach. But the big problem of getting it from the producer to your warehouses and making sure that your warehouses are adequate in handling that, having the refrigeration that you need for certain types of these commodities and freezers and so on, is all a part of that.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So I am interested in not only pushing this bill forward, which will help to accomplish that, but also working in the supplemental appropriations and in the farm bill that we will be working on later this year, making sure that this aspect of our farm program works out as well. Because that is really the bottom line for many of the people on this committee and we need to make sure they understand how you all fit into it. You are a part of our Nation's farm program.
And that is really what H.R. 2185 addresses, to provide funding to purchase food for TEFAP and to get it to the people who need it. And so we thank you for the dedicated efforts you provide inas a part of that overall enormous part of our Nation's economy. You fit into that. Don't forget that. We need to make sure everybody understands that you play an integral role in doing that.
I don't have any other questions. Do you, Mrs. Clayton?
Mrs. CLAYTON. I just wanted to make this observation. Both the ranking member and the Chair were mentioning about you being involved in the distribution or the implementation of the supplemental program. That is critical because we have a short window. And I can't emphasize how important it is if there are States that you don'tdo not have relationship with. I am sure you do, because I think I heard that every State works like North Carolina and Texas where the food comes in to one place. But this additional money means that the States now can buy additional food over and above what is in TEFAP, in terms of specialty crops, vegetables, and things of that sort.
So that is an additional resource that products are grown in your individual States that would not be necessarily purchased by the USDA per se, will be purchased now by the State and maybe the Agriculture Commission or maybe the human resource. You can suggesthopefully you willhow best that can be distributed or what the foods are. And it seems to me that is a great opportunity for you to help us implement that program. And with a minimum amount of administration works. So I think youas the chairman has said, you are a key in that whole distribution. You are part of the critical food chain, from the farmers, as well to the person who will consume it. And, again, thank you.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GAY. I have one question concerning that. Who will the money be allocated to? Would it be one State agency per State? Would it be the Department of Agriculture in each State, or
Mr. GOODLATTE. I think it would be continued under the same mechanism as it is now. If you have some suggestions about that, we would be happy to entertain those.
Mr. GAY. The reason I was saying that is some Statesthe School Lunch Program is run by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education. TEFAP is run by another State agency. Sometimes you have two State agencies in each State running a different nutrition program. So they would have to work out among themselves who would get the money or how they would divide it up or something like that.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, we would certainly welcome any suggestion you have on fine tuning that. The bill is not detailed in that regard.
Mr. GAY. All right.
Mr. STENHOLM. Mr. Chairman?
Mr. GOODLATTE. Yes.
Mr. STENHOLM. What the chairman just said, I would underline is that different States have different programs already. But I think it is safe to say, we would anticipate that they would be coordinated through USDA with the States and the appropriate entities must be identified quickly State by State. In some cases, there will be no problem at all. In other cases, there will be. Not a problem, but it will be a little more of a challenge for us to do it.
And, again, the purpose of the program was two-fold. One is, we recognize that specialty crops are having income problems also along with the traditional commodities. So we have allocated the monies. There was a strong desire on the point of some that it just be a direct check written out to the individual producer. That would be almost impossible to accomplish in a short period of time. And also would not accomplish the second part, which is the subject of this hearing, which is what the chairman and ranking member of this subcommittee have been talking about. And that is, taking this inventory blessing, which some call a surplus, and convert it to food and get it distributed to the people that need it.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That is the whole theory behind it, but it is going to take a lot of cooperation from a lot of folks and I am looking at 5 of you that, by your presence here today, already indicate your interest in feeding people. And that is what this committee is all about, is doing it, as the chairman said, efficiently, making sure that programs get run better. And that is the best way to get more money. But you asked a very pertinent question, one of which we need a lot of help in a hurry as this legislation will move rather rapidly. Or, otherwise, if it doesn't move rapidly, it is all a moot question, because the monies we are talking about are 2001 monies that have to be spent quickly.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, I thank all of you. You have come from distant parts of the country. I think, geographically, you represent the country pretty well. And thank you for taking the time to be with us today. The Chair would seek unanimous consent to allow the record of today's hearing to remain open for 10 days to receive additional material and supplementary written responses from witnesses to any question posed by a member of the panel. Without objection, it is so ordered. And this hearing of the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry, is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 11:53 a.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Statement of Douglas O'Brien
Good morning, Chairman Goodlatte, Representative Clayton, and Members of the Subcommittee, I am Douglas O'Brien, Director of Public Policy & Research at America's Second Harvest. I consider it a great honor to be invited back to the Subcommittee to present testimony regarding the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act of 2001 and the potential impact this legislation will have on food banks and the needy Americans they serve.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before I begin, I would like to express my gratitude to the Chairman for reintroducing the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act in the 107th Congress. We believe this improved version of the legislation is important and necessary and we urge its enactment this year.
I would like to briefly introduce the organization I represent. America's Second Harvest is the nation's largest hunger relief charity and one of the largest not-for-profit corporations in the United States. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, America's Second Harvest is a national network of more than 200 regional affiliate food banks and food recovery organizations that provide more than $2.3 billion in food and grocery products to 50,000 local private charitable agencies. Our network affiliates provide hunger relief services to every U.S. county, in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Two of our network affiliates are testifying here today, David Goodman of the Redwood Empire Food Bank of California, and David Weaver of the South Plains Food Bank of Texas. Those food banks and the others in our network provided food assistance to an estimated 26 million low-income people last year, including 21 million at emergency food assistance agencies such as church pantries, soup kitchens, congregate meal sites for the elderly poor, and homeless shelters. More than 70 percent of the member food pantries and soup kitchens served by our food banks are faith-based or religious institutions. For a more detailed discussion of America's Second Harvest and our operations, I respectfully refer Members to my testimony of April 3, 2001 before the Subcommittee.
According to recent Federal Government statistics, roughly 1 in 9 Americans, or 31 million people, are food insecurethat is hungry or at risk of hunger. Thirty one million low-income people, in the most prosperous nation on Earth, go hungry so their children can eat, or turn to a church pantry to get by until payday, or simply are unsure where they will get their next meal.
These high rates of hunger and food insecurity exist despite the strong economic gains of the past eight years and the recent dramatic declines in food stamp and welfare participation. With food stamp caseloads falling more than 30% in the past four years, some policy makers have assumedincorrectlythat the economic and food security needs of former recipients are being met. According to an Urban Institute national study, 38% of former welfare recipients ran out of food and did not have enough money for more. In Wisconsin, 32% of former welfare recipients reported they did not have enough money for food and in South Carolina, 17% of former welfare recipients reported that had no way to buy food after leaving welfare. Moreover, a 1999 GAO report looking at the falling food stamp caseloads stated: ''Demand for food assistance by low-income families has increased in recent years, indicating that the drop in food stamp participation is not solely the result of a strong economy...According to these data, the need for food assistance has not diminished; rather, needy individuals are relying on sources of assistance other than food stamps.''
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to increased need for food assistance, we are also finding a transformation in the demographic profile of food insecure or hungry people. For example, soup kitchens which have historically served the homeless now increasingly serve working poor families with children. In fact, according to our 1997 Hunger Study, one in five people in a soup kitchen line is now a child. We have generally more working poor families being served at food bank agencies now than at any other time. Approximately 40 percent of the people we serve work, and yet they are also in need of charitable food assistance.
To meet this growing demand for emergency food assistance, our network largely relies on the generosity of the food industry and agriculture. Last year, our network distributed more than 1.7 billion pounds of privately donated food and grocery products to low-income people. America's Second Harvest currently has more private sector food donors than at any other time in our organization's history and donations are up by more than 10 percent. Despite the widespread support of the food industry and agricultural sector, nonetheless private donations of food have not kept up with the requests for emergency food assistance and emergency food stocks remain woefully short of demand. A recent article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled ''The Cupboard's Bare'' reported that the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank ''has shelves so bare they look as if they have been swept clean by locusts.'' Unfortunately many food banks and local hunger relief agencies are reporting shortages of food to provide to needy families.
Since 1983, the United States Department of Agriculture has supplemented private domestic hunger relief efforts through commodity donations made through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). TEFAP is the cornerstone program in the charitable efforts to feed America's hungry, and is the bridge between public and private hunger relief efforts. TEFAP is a nearly unique community-based and community-supported Federal nutrition program, that relies on volunteers at food banks and local charitable agencies to prepare and distribute federally donated agricultural commodities to hungry people in their communities. (For a detailed discussion of the origins of TEFAP, historic funding levels and the program's relationship with emergency food providers, please refer to my testimony of April 3, 2001 and April 6, 2000 before the Subcommittee.)
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC TEFAP serves the public good in two primary and important ways: first, high quality, nutritious food gets to hungry Americans in an efficient manner utilizing the efficiencies and volunteer labor of the private sector, and second, the agricultural economy is strengthened through surplus commodity removal. A 1994 USDA - Economic Research Service report stated ''Although TEFAP's sector-wide farm impacts are small because the program is small, producers of the commodities donated through TEFAP can be significantly affected ... As a surplus disposal program TEFAP returned to farmers approximately 85 cents for every dollar of Federal TEFAP expenditure.'' TEFAP provides increased farm income and serves as direct connection between America's farmers and hungry Americans like few other Federal programs.
In rural areas, TEFAP is even more important where food banks serving rural communities often lack any significant retail grocery store base from which they can draw donations of food. For many rural food banks in our system, TEFAP commodities may represent between 30% and 50% of the entire inventory they provide to the needy. One rural food bank director summed up her food bank's reliance on TEFAP when she told me ''Without TEFAP, I would not have a food bank right now.''
The types of food most needed by local charities, primarily meat, dairy, fish, fruits and vegetables, and grain products, are almost exclusively the commodities provided through TEFAP. Those are also the least likely types of food to be donated in significant quantities or with any kind of regularity. This year, more than two dozen types of nutritious commodities will be available to food banks through TEFAP mandatory commodity purchases.
America's Second Harvest believes that the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act (H.R. 2185) will help strengthen TEFAP and will help food banks and other charities that serve the poor to do what we do bestthat is, feed the hungry.
H.R. 2185 will increase TEFAP mandatory commodity purchases by $30,000,000. That means that more than 32,000,000 additional meals will be provided to people in need at a time when local charities are turning too many people away for a lack of food. Almost as critically as increasing food donations, H.R. 2185 will also help charities receive and distribute commodities through a $10,000, 000 grant to the states for storage and distribution, including $2 million for gleaning fresh produce from farmers' fields.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The increased need for storage and distribution grant funding is critical. Since 1997, commodities provided through TEFAP have increased by 400 percent with most of the increase coming through surplus or bonus commodities purchased by USDA for agricultural market support purposes. For example, USDA purchased an estimated $200 million in commodities through the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000, much of which flowed to TEFAP and other domestic feeding programs. While surplus commodities continue to rise, the funding for distribution and storage costs has remained unchanged at $45 million for nearly a decade. Food banks and other hunger relief agencies gladly receive surplus commodities but the additional costs of receiving, storing and distributing the commodities has become a significant burden on operating budgets for many food banks as the quantities of surplus commodities have increased.
The Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank in Ohio rightly describes the ''windfall and dilemma paradox'' many food banks face. The Director of the food bank states, ''We are efficient. We distribute more than $12 worth of food for $1 we receive from donors. We have to run our charity with the same acumen and efficiencies as any other business if we want to continue to be around to serve the needy, but we now have a business dilemma. We can't refuse the surplus commodities, they include great productsapples, apricots, oranges, pears, peaches, raisins, cranberry juice, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, dry milk, pork sausage, and othersbut we have no assurance that we will recover our cost of distributing the food.''
The situation faced by the food bank in Akron is not unique. Nationally, more than 400 million pounds of potatoes will be destroyed or turned to fertilizer if they cannot be cleaned, bagged, and moved to hungry families around the country. Nearly 900 million pounds of apples, five million pounds of onions and two million pounds of carrots will be wasted if storage and distribution funding is not provided to get the produce to the tables of working poor families, the rural elderly, and the urban homeless.
As the Agriculture Committee begins the reauthorization process, we believe H.R. 2185 is an important step in the right direction. America's food banks and hunger relief agencies will gladly move the surplus of America's farms to hungry Americans, but we need help. We believe H.R. 2185 provides that help.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC H.R. 2185 provides increased TEFAP food spending by creating another allowable use of unspent and unobilgated Food Stamp Employment and Training (E&T) funds. It increases TEFAP only if there remains unspent Food Stamp E&T funds after states have applied for the E&T funds, and after the states have also had a second chance at the E&T funding through the reallocation process. Then, only after all E&T funding requests have been met, would TEFAP receive additional food purchasesup to $40 million, if such funds were available.
According to earlier USDA estimates, more than $140 million in Food Stamp E&T funds go unspent each year 1998 through 2000. A recent GAO report found that of the $330 million available to states in Food Stamp E&T grants in fiscal year 2000 ''the states spent $98 million, or only 30 percent of the $330 million available for employment and training programs.'' The GAO report determined that a number of factors have led to this surplus of unspent E&T funds.
America's Second Harvest has consistently urged the states to use all the Food Stamp E&T funds available to them. We regularly publicize Food Stamp options, including E&T funding, through our annual research report ''50 State Survey of the Food Assistance Gap'' conducted jointly with the Food Research and Action Center. With our strong support for the Food Stamp Program and the E&T funding, we also recognize that it would be unconscionable to allow unspent and unobligated funds to roll-over year after year when unspent funds in that account could also be used to assist local hunger relief activitiesmany of which are aimed at the very recipients which the Food Stamp E&T program was created to serve.
Mr. Chairman and Madame Ranking Member, the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act is thoughtful, reasonable legislation which will increase TEFAP food available to hungry people, and does so in a manner that causes no harm to the Food Stamp E&T program, nor harms food stamp recipients. I urge this subcommittee to mark-up this bill as quickly as possible and move this legislation toward enactment.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Hunger relief charities are often the last line of defense against hunger in many American communities, and too many needy people have already been turned away for a lack of food and resources.
In light of the nation's considerable agricultural surpluses and Federal budget surpluses, it is morally unacceptable that there are tens of thousands of American children that may go to bed hungry tonight because they have no food in their home or because the church pantry they have visited is empty. The TEFAP commodity provisions of the Emergency Food Assistance Enhancement Act will put food into food banks and will provide an additional 30 million meals to children, the elderly, the homeless, and working poor families in need. America's Second Harvest strongly endorses this legislation, and we urge that it be enacted in the 107th Congress.
Thank you Mr. Chairman, Congresswoman Clayton and Members of the Subcommittee. I am available to answer your questions.
Statement of Eric M. Bost
Mr. Chairman, and Rep. Clayton, I am Eric Bost, Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services at the U.S Department of Agriculture. It is my pleasure to appear before the Subcommittee this morning as one of my first new duties since being sworn in by Secretary Veneman this past Monday. I look forward to more opportunities to appear before the Agriculture Committee as we discuss the reauthorization of the Nutrition Title contained in the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996. As I stated before the Senate Agriculture Committee during my confirmation hearing, the job before me is a humbling one, but one for which I am prepared. The nutrition assistance programs are essential to fighting hunger and improving nutrition for children and low-income people.
In the short time since assuming my new duties, the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) staff has advised me of three main issues for this hearing:
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC First, there are substantial carryover funds in the Food Stamp Program's Education and Training (E&T) account. This has occurred because 80 percent of E&T funds are earmarked to train able-bodied adults for work and the number of eligible individuals has significantly declined. Unless they get a job or participate in training, these individuals have a time-limit for participation in the Food Stamp Program (FSP). States have not spent the funds as rapidly as had been expected, and unspent funds remain in this account each year.
Second, Chairman Goodlatte has a keen interest in helping The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and has convened several hearings on how to use these upsent E&T funds to enhance TEFAP. Acting FNS Administrator George Braley has briefed me on his appearance before the Subcommittee on April 3, 2001. National organizations and local food banks testified about the importance of TEFAP, but they face a dilemma. Although there has been an increase in the amount of commodities available for TEFAP, there has been no increase in the Federal funding for intrastate storage and distribution. Available TEFAP commodities include not only those acquired with the $100 million authorized in the Food Stamp Act of 1977 for direct purchase, but also additional ''bonus'' commodities from the $200 million in purchases authorized by the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106224). A substantial portion of these commodities is expected to be distributed through TEFAP.
The third point was that H.R. 2185, introduced by Chairman Goodlatte, would make permanent the authorization to purchase more commodities for distribution through TEFAP. We understand that the bill would also allow for an increase of funds for state level storage and distribution costs for TEFAP. All of this would be done by reallocating unspent FSP E&T funds. Whether using unspent E&T funds is the best way to accomplish these goals is an open question. More states each year are using E&T funds, and we now see that spending is up to nearly $100 million.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, USDA is currently providing substantial commodity support for TEFAP. It is through the TEFAP local operators that much of the success of TEFAP has occurred. They have reported that additional administrative funds for intrastate storage and distribution would be most helpful and we agree that some relief to the States for storage and distribution costs in TEFAP would help ensure that states do not decline bonus commodities that could otherwise be used to help needy people.
We are currently working to make additional funds available for TEFAP administrative costs by reprogramming $5 million in Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) funds provided in the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for fiscal year 2001. We will be notifying Congress formally in the near future of our intention to reprogram the funds from CSFP to TEFAP. The additional $5 million in reprogrammed funds will enable States to accommodate the increase in commodities available to TEFAP in fiscal year 2001.
I look forward to working with you and the Subcommittee to ensure that we have the necessary authority so that available resources are targeted wisely in support of the people who need our Nation's nutrition assistance programs. All the Food and Nutrition Service programs are important to the people they serve, and these programs comprise the safety net necessary for reaching our goals of eliminating hunger and improving the nutrition and health of Americans.
That concludes my testimony, Mr. Chairman. I would be happy to answer any questions.
Statement of Gary Gay
Good morning Chairman Goodlatte and members of the Subcommittee. I am Gary Gay, Director of the Food Distribution Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Thank you for another opportunity to testify about the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and, in particular, the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act of 2001 (H.R. 2185).
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The North Carolina Department of Agriculture is responsible for distributing nearly 34 million pounds of USDA commodities annually to programs such as TEFAP and the National School Lunch Program. I am also President of the American Commodity Distribution Association (ACDA). ACDA is a non-profit professional trade association devoted to the improvement of the U.S. Department of Agriculture'ss (USDA) commodity distribution system. ACDA members include state agencies that distribute USDA-purchased commodities, agricultural organizations, recipient agencies, such as schools and soup kitchens, and allied organizations, such as nonprofit anti-hunger groups. ACDA members are responsible for distributing over 1.5 billion pounds of USDA purchased commodities annually to programs such as TEFAP and the National School Lunch Program.
Chairman Goodlatte, I would like to start by commending you for your commitment to improving TEFAP and for introducing H.R. 2185. Over the past decade TEFAP has evolved from a surplus distribution program into an effective nutrition assistance program that is an integral part of our country's food assistance safety net. Along with TEFAP's success, however, we have found out that there is an unmet need for nutrition assistance, and the program needs additional resources to continue to be effective. The Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act would improve the program by supplementing its budget with up to $40 million. Of this amount, up to $10 million could be allocated to offset storage and distribution costs.
As you know, the level of TEFAP commodity purchases has varied significantly over the last decade. The $100 million in mandatory commodity purchases, which was required by the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, ensures a constant and predictable flow of commodities and eliminates reliance on the yearly appropriations process. In addition to these funds, TEFAP has received a significant amount of bonus commodities over the last several years. The additional assistance proposed by H.R. 2185 would help states and local agencies meet the growing demand for TEFAP, and it could not have come at a better time. It is very possible that demand for TEFAP will grow significantly if the economy slows down. Indeed, the demand for TEFAP increased significantly over the last decade despite the expanding economy.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition to increased funding for food purchases, TEFAP is in desperate need of additional storage and distribution funds, and the additional funding proposed by H.R. 2185 would be put to good use. The volume of food distributed through the program has more than doubled over the past two years, largely due to the amount of bonus commodities that have been purchased by USDA, and distribution and storage costs have increased significantly. Importantly, the bill would give the Secretary of Agriculture flexibility in determining how much of the $40 million should be allocated to offset storage and distribution costs. This is a prudent approach to providing storage and distribution funding because it would give the Secretary the flexibility to ensure that the money is used in the most efficient way, which can change from year to year. In years when a significant volume of bonus commodities moves through the program, the full $10 million may be needed to help offset storage and distribution costs. If the bonus volume is low, it may be more appropriate to direct most the money to food purchases.
I also want to express ACDA's support and thanks for the provision that would eliminate the term ''administrative'' from the TEFAP statute. As you know, the statute authorizes up to $50 million annually to pay for the distribution of TEFAP commodities, but the wording of the statute has resulted in this account being considered ''administrative'' spending. The term ''administrative'', however, sends the wrong message, and sounds as if the money is being used to underwrite vast, state-run bureaucracy. Nothing could be further from the truth, and the change you have proposed would more accurately reflect how this money is usedto cover storage and distribution costs. Virtually all of this money is passed on to recipient agencies, such as community action agencies and food banks, to help offset the costs of storing and transporting commodities.
As the Subcommittee moves forward with its consideration of H.R. 2185, I would like to suggest including an additional, no-cost amendment to the TEFAP statute that would make the program easier to operate for State and local agencies: the statute should be amended to allow States to carry-over a portion of their storage and distribution funds from one fiscal year to the next. Currently, agencies are required to return unobligated funds at the end of the fiscal year, which makes it difficult to help pay for distribution of food that is purchased by USDA in one fiscal year but not delivered to States until the first quarter of the following fiscal year. This problem has been resolved for other nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, but it continues to hinder the effective operation of TEFAP. To fix this problem, ACDA recommends that the statute be amended to allow storage and distribution funds to remain available until expended.
Page 68 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Before I close, I would like to highlight the importance of TEFAP to American farmersan issue that is often overlooked. Like TEFAP recipients, America's farmers are not reaping the benefits of our nation's economic success. TEFAP commodity purchases, like all of USDA's food assistance programs, have a dual role. These purchases enable USDA to provide nutritional assistance to needy Americans, while at the same time providing much needed assistance to the agricultural community by supporting farm prices. While other food assistance programs are much larger, the importance of TEFAP commodity purchases should not be overlooked because they have a more direct impact on the bottom line of agricultural producers. Although it is several years old, a 1993 Economic Research Service(ERS) report quantifies the importance of this program to farmers. According to ERS, producers receive up to 85 cents of every dollar expended on TEFAP purchases. By way of comparison, every dollar spent by the Food Stamp Program has significantly less of an impact on producers. ERS estimates that producers receive less than 7 cents of every food stamp dollar.
The agricultural community in general has long recognized the importance of TEFAP, and has been a strong supporter in the fight to maintain the program's funding. The importance of TEFAP and all of USDA's commodity distribution programs to the agricultural community has been magnified due to commitments to reduce subsidies for domestic agricultural producers under international trade agreements. TEFAP falls into a category of what have become known as Green Box programs, which are exempt from these commitments and allow the U.S. to support domestic producers by purchasing food for distribution to needy Americans.
Mr. Chairman, again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I would be happy to answer any questions you or other members of the Subcommittee may have.
Statement of David Goodman
Good morning Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Clayton, and distinguished members of the Subcommittee. My name is David Goodman and I am the Executive Director of the Redwood Empire food Bank. The Redwood Empire Food Bank is a proud member of the California Association of Food Banks, and an affiliate of America's Second Harvest. We are located in Sonoma County, California, located 55 miles north of San Francisco.
Page 69 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Redwood Empire Food Bank serves a five county region (Sonoma, Mendocino, Humboldt, Lake and Del Norte) that extends 320 miles along the coast to the Oregon border. In Sonoma County alone, our food reaches 37,000 people each month and provides more than 3.3 million meals annually. Our food is distributed through our own direct service programs (A Child's Portion and Senior Brown Bag), as well as through the efforts of more than 150 human service organizations such as, neighborhood food pantries, day-care centers, soup kitchens, shelters, and after-school programs.
Although the work of the Redwood Empire Food Bank is impressive, we are just one of many food banks that make up the safety net for low-income Californians. In fact, California food banks now distribute enough food to provide more than 184 million meals annually. Our food is distributed with the help of more than 5,000 community organizations, reaching 2.5 million people each month. No longer the grass roots operations of yesteryear, food banks have become critical players in California's, as well as the nation'ssafety net for people suffering from hunger or living on the edge of hunger.
As you are well aware, hunger is a powerful adversary in the lives of low-income people throughout our country. As a food banker, I am deeply concerned about my neighbors in need. I would like to take this time to share with you the reality of people we serve. Speaking from a local perspective, I can tell you that our recent economic boom has done little to help low-income families in Sonoma County. In fact, many families are worse off due to skyrocketing rents. In our county, workers must earn $20.35 per hour in order to reasonably afford an average two-bedroom apartment. A quick calculation reveals the daunting realit6 for low-income people. Parents must hold a combined 3.25 full-time jobs in order to make ends meet. Taking these figures into account, it is no surprise that food is not purchased so rent can be paid.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have been asked to provide this committee with a front line perspective on hunger in our country. The issue at hand is whether we should reallocate up to $40 million a year in unspent employment and training funds toward the purchase, transportation, storage and distribution of EFAP commodities.
It is important to begin by saying that EFAP commodities represent some of the highest quality foods that food banks are able to provide the people we serve. Many commodities are staple foods that have cross-cultural appeal. The Asian and Latino communities, for example, equally appreciate the rice. The tomato sauce and frozen ground beef work well in stews and, when served over commodities of pasta make a hearty meal. The canned apple juice works well for kids of all ages. The combination of rice cereal, dry milk and raisins ensures that children are sure to receive a nutritious breakfasta great start to their day.
The key to a successful distribution of EFAP commodities is the availability of volunteers who are concerned about hunger in their community. This year alone, the Redwood Empire Food Bank's volunteers will contribute more than 48,000 hours of their timethe equivalent of 24 full-time staff members. Without the help of volunteers, the stability of any one of our distribution sites in Sonoma County is in severe jeopardy. In fact, the Redwood Empire Food Bank recently completed a study that revealed that our volunteer corps is aging and the younger community is not stepping up to replace the. The significance here is that this is the structure upon which our nation depends to serve people in need.
In Sonoma County, we have 19 EFAP distribution sites. This year, we expect to receive and distribute 410,000 pounds of USDA commodities and 120,000 pounds of produce brought in through California's ''Donate, Don't Dump'' program. The Redwood Empire Food Bank will receive $42,000 this year to store, distribute and administer the 530,000 pounds of food. The contract amount covers approximately 39% of the actual cost of distributing the commodities.
It has been said that nothing in this world is free. The same holds true for commodities. Food banks do not receive financial compensation for the commodities they distribute beyond the fixed contract amount. The result is that each increase in commodities without related financial support for the storage and distribution of the food becomes a loss leader for food banks. As non-profit organizations, food banks have the luxury of not turning a profit, but as in any business, we cannot afford to lose money.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In California, the EFAP Program distributes a large amount of produce through its Denote, Don't Dump Program. This program works with farmers throughout the state, ensuring that the maximum amount of edible produce reaches people in need. For those of us on the front line, we need the ability to effectively store and distribute the produce. This requires proper refrigeration both in the warehouse, as well as on the trucks that transport the produce to our pantry distributions.
Currently, our food bank only has one refrigerated truck. Simply stated, only half of the available produce reaches people in need during the summer months. The remaining produce languishes in our warehouse, waiting for the next available refrigerated truck.
In order to take full advantage of the wide range of commodities (dry, frozen and fresh) that the EFAP program has to offer, it seems prudent that an investment in infrastructure for food banks across the country is necessary.
The Food Stamp Program
As important as the EFAP commodities are to feeding people in need in our country, we must remember that they are meant to meet both emergency as well as temporary circumstances. They are not the solution to ending hunger in America. For food bankers, our primary concern is ensuring that hungry people receive the food they need today. Once today's needs are taken care of, our attention turns to their needs for tomorrow. Therein lies the problem with placing too many resources with EFAP commodities as a solution to our nation's hunger needs. The EFAP commodities are meant to be emergency provisions, yet they are filling a chronic hunger problem in our country.
Throughout California, EFAP food distributions are run by volunteers and take place at times that best meet the volunteers' availability. As a result, many distributions are held on weekdays during the middle of the daya time that absolutely inconvenient for people how have moved from welfare to work, or for those who are in the process of finding work. They are placed with a difficult choice of staying at work and forgoing the food they and their family requires, or leaving work without pay (if it is in fact an option to leave work) in order to obtain a bag of groceries. This situation definitely runs contrary to a move toward personal self-sufficiency and upward professional mobility.
Page 72 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The long-term plan must be to utilize the Food Stamp Program in a way that effectively supports low-wage earners, and provides adequate nutrition for their families. What we cannot accept as a society is for hunger to be the price that people pay for having low-wage jobs. With the changes that were brought about by welfare reform, food stamps can now serve as an economic bridge, a nutrition enhancement, or an economic stabilizer for working Americans. Food stamps provide families with a stable economic and nutritional platform from which they can improve their position in life. Ironically, access to food stamps in and of themselves is possibly the best insurance that people entering the workforce will be able to eventually leave government supported food programs entirely. In other words, a person who stays in his/her job, demonstrating his/her ability to make a valuable contribution, provides a great deal more confidence than someone who must leave to either dine in a soup kitchen or stand in line at a neighborhood pantry.
A successful Food Stamp Program will solve many of our troubles. Gaining an understanding of why nearly 50% of available participants in California currently are not participating in the Food Stamp Program and figuring out how to help them would be a good first step. The likely culprit is the multitude of legislative and administrative hurdles that exist. The upcoming reauthorization of food stamps and TEFAP in the Farm Bill provides us with a golden opportunity to reform food stamps to better support working families and to reduce red tape for everyone. A new bipartisan bill makes a good start on these needed reforms, so I ask you today to also cosponsor HR 2142, the Nutrition Assistance for Working Families and Seniors Act. If we can be successful in enrolling qualified people, California's economy alone would be stimulated by nearly $1.5 billion dollars. Sonoma County would realize more than $6 million in additional commerce. And farmers and manufacturers would benefit as demand for goods increased at the merchant level.
Page 73 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Should we reallocate up to $40 million a year in unspent employment and training funds toward the purchase, transportation, storage and distribution of EFAP commodities? Of course we should. People (moms, dads, grandparents, children) are hungry now, and food banks are desperately seeking food to keep them healthy and productive citizens. There isn't a single hunger relief advocate who could justify ignoring the needs of people who are hungry today in lieu of a long-term goal of feeding more people in the future.
This, however, should only be in the beginning of what needs to become the solution to America's hunger problem. The government needs to recognize the role that food banks and other hunger relief organizations play in caring for its citizens. Increasing the amount of EFAP commodities for food banks is a tremendous idea; lacking operational support on the local level, however, the idea quickly becomes an untenable proposal. In California, food banks already receive only half of the funding that it takes to operate the EFAP program. An increase in food to the local level, without additional operational support, is simply beyond our economic capabilities.
The face of hunger has changed in our communities. A few years back our attention would have been focused strictly on the homeless. Well, you can be sure that the homeless are still with us, and hunger has a strong hold on them. The difference now, however, is that hunger has reached out with its other hand and grabbed a hold of the working poor.
All of us who work on hunger issues must thing about how each person is impacted by the lack of effective funding. The very fact that the government works in consort with food banks on nutrition programs demonstrates that we share the belief that in this great country, no one should go hungry or lack adequate nutrition. In the end, ''the best measure of a civilized society is how it cares for its poor.''
Thank you for your consideration.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCStatement of David Waever, Jr.
Good Morning Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. My name is David Weaver, Jr. I am the Executive Director for the South Plains Food Bank in Lubbock, Texas. In addition, I currently serve as the President of the Texas Association of Second Harvest Food Banks composed of the 19 America's Second Harvest Food Banks that serve the State of Texas.
Thank you for the invitation to testify before this subcommittee regarding House Resolution 2185 the Emergency Food Assistance Program Enhancement Act of 2001. If passed, this bill we be of tremendous aid in the cause of feeding the hungry. It is my understanding that H. R. 2185 will not only increase commodity purchases for the TEFAP program but also provide needed support to help with the storage, transportation, and distribution of TEFAP commodities once they are received by food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens who partner with our government. This program will be funded by using unspent money that had been designated for employment and training programs.
The South Plains Food Bank directly serves 25 counties of West Texas. In addition, our Subsidiary Distribution Organization (SDO), the Concho Valley Regional Food Bank in San Angelo, Texas, serves another 10 counties. Around 600,000 people live in our service area. Of that number, about 120,000 people, or 19 percent of the population live in poverty. It is ironic that many of the people we serve in our rural areas have worked in agriculture for much of their lives. A large number of the individuals served by our food bank are women. Over the past four years, we have seen a significant increase in the number of working people that have turned to the food bank for assistance.
Our goal at the South Plains Food Bank is to develop the relationships and resources necessary to insure that no one in the South Plains goes hungry. Twenty-seven hundred years ago, Homer wrote, ''Light is the task when many share the toil.'' We are fortunate that many in our service area have stepped forward to share in the task of feeding the hungry. We work with over 270 social agencies and churches to distribute food in our service area. Last year, volunteers at the South Plains Food Bank logged in over 230,000 hours of service.
Page 75 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC While it's easy to quantify the number of agencies and the hours of service, it is more difficult to quantify the intangibles that our agencies and volunteers bring to the table. Sometimes, the care and interest and compassion they offer the hungry is just as important as the food itself.
Of equal importance are the relationships with our food donors who provide the resources for feeding the hungry. Last year, the South Plains Food Bank distributed 6.7 million pounds of food. It came from a variety of sources: sixty percent from donors in our service area, ten percent from national donors via America's Second Harvest, and thirty percent from Texas Commodity Assistance Program (TEXCAP), our Texas incarnation of TEFAP administered by the Texas Department of Human Services. Our total TEFAP distribution last year was 2.3 million pounds.
TEFAP Commodities play a significant role in providing the food resources necessary for serving the hungry. First is the nutritional quality of the food. When coupled with food from other sources, TEFAP commodities provide a solid foundation for creating well-balanced meals.
Second, in a constantly changing world, TEFAP Commodities provide a predictable source of food. Donations from local grocers and national food manufactures ebb and flow as the demands of business dictate. This spring and summer, we have seen a significant decrease in the quantity of food from our local grocers. At the same time, national food manufacturers are becoming more efficient in their production and marketing and thus have less surplus to donate.
As the number of people turning to the South Plains Food Bank for assistance increases and our base of food donors goes through a period of change, I think you can see that increasing TEFAP food purchases is of vital importance to meet the needs of the hungry. On the other hand, working with food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens also provides tremendous leverage for the Federal dollars spent to purchase additional commodities.
Page 76 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Increasing the availability of TEFAP commodities under H.R. 2185 presents a couple of interesting challenges. If fact, we are addressing these challenges already with the increased TEFAP bonus product we are receiving. First is the challenge of having adequate space to warehouse an increased volume of TEFAP commodities. Some food banks may have to lease additional warehouse space. In our case, we are purchasing a warehouse that will provide an additional thirty thousand square feet of storage space for food storage.
A second challenge is distribution costs of the additional commodities. The South Plains is a land of wide-open spaces! On a weekly basis, we deliver TEFAP commodities, fresh produce and other donated food to our rural agencies in the counties surrounding Lubbock. A round trip for us is normally about 150 miles. When we deliver food to our SDO in San Angelo it becomes a 300 mile round trip.
Last year, there was a gap of $110,000 between the handling fees we received from TEFAP sources and our actual distribution costs. As energy prices for utilities and fuel have increased, we have seen a significant increase in our cost for all food distribution including TEFAP Commodities. Because we are receiving more TEFAP bonus product, we are on the road more often delivering these commodities.
If additional funds are made available for TEFAP Commodities, the South Plains Food Bank is committed to insuring that those commodities are handled and distributed in a safe and timely manner. If additional funds are not made available to support the cost of handling and distributing TEFAP Commodities, we will commit funds donated from other sources to cover the handling and distribution costs. This is how we are now handling the additional costs we are incurring with the TEFAP bonus product we are receiving.
However, additional TEFAP funds for handling and distribution will free up our donated funds to provide other services to insure the food security of low income people in our service areaprograms such as job training and community gardens.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Every food bank is unique, reflecting the personality, challenges, and opportunities of the communities we serve. The Houston Food Bank serves a large, congested urban population while the West Texas Food Bank in Odessa serves a vast geographic region where, in some counties, the cows really do outnumber the people.
It has been my pleasure to share our experience at the South Plains Food Bank. Although my testimony reflects our unique experience, I hope you have captured a sense of the opportunitities and challenges we face with the passage of H.R. 2185. Feeding the hungry is a daunting task. Thank you for having the courage and the vision to undertake this worthy cause. Indeed, ''Light is the task when many share the toil.''
Statement of Ken Horne
Thank you very much for allowing me to be with you today. We at the Society of St. Andrew are very encouraged by your efforts to expand the ability of TEFAP to meet the needs of America's poor. If you are successful in expanding funding for TEFAP there are a number of innovative ways that TEFAP could leverage the increase by partnering with existing private sector programs.
As you know, the Society of St. Andrew salvages normally discarded produce and delivers these vegetables to agencies that serve the poor nation-wide. Last year we were able to glean over thirty million pounds of produce for our nation's poor. We are proud of this record yet at the same time recognize that much more can be done, and needs to be done.
Since our expertise is in the area of produce I will limit my remarks to that subject. The burden of what I have to say is simple. There is much more produce that can be salvaged. Produce salvage is cheap (SOSA's cost runs about five cents per delivered pound). And the TEFAP program can be utilized to dramatically increase the amount of gleaned produce made available to our nation's poor people each year. I offer three examples; there are many others.
Page 78 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since produce can be donated or gleaned and delivered to agencies that serve the poor for a total transportation and processing cost of only five cents per pound, the first course that suggests itself is to simply increase TEFAP funding for that purpose. A modest increase of fifty thousand dollars per state, two and one half million dollars annually, would issue in deliveries of fifty million pounds of produce nation-wide. Both Society of St. Andrew and America's Second Harvest have the capacity to meet increased demand at that level. I refer you to the experience of the state of North Carolina (which already uses some of its TEFAP funding this way) for an example of the effectiveness of this approach.
Every year growers offering what you might term emergency donations approach SOSA. This is generally as a result of a market glut. A large amount of produce (commonly in excess of ten million pounds) must be either donated or discarded in a short amount of time (generally six weeks or less). There are only two organizations equipped to handle a donation of this magnitude, Society of St. Andrew and America's Second Harvest. But neither organization has the emergency funds necessary to package and transport this volume of produce in such a short time.
For instance, this past year a glut has been experienced in the potato market. Whereas the Society of St. Andrew and America's Second Harvest have done all they could, much more of this excess has gone to waste than to the households of the poor. This waste is due entirely to a lack of funds to package and transport the excess potatoes. If additional funds were available TEFAP could create a revolving fund of one to two million dollars that could be drawn on in response to these emergency donations. Much of this food could be salvaged and delivered to our nation's food bank system instead of being lost, as is presently the case.
Finally, TEFAP monies could be usefully spent as seed money for the replication and growth of successful produce salvage programs both at the state and local level. The present spirit of cooperation between the private sector and government, and the increased openness toward partnerships between government and the faith based community give us an unprecedented opportunity to help the private sector increase its ability to serve the poor.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As an example of what could be accomplished let me use something from the current operations of my own organization. We have recently embarked on a plan to establish the first truly nationwide network of Gleaners. The network will be established in partnership with the faith-based community and will take 57 years to build. This is a very ambitious undertaking. I cannot overemphasize the importance of seed funding for this and other expansion efforts. In this case all the expertise, techniques and efficiencies necessary to make the network a reality are in place and have been tested. If sufficient funding can be obtained, the success of this network is assured. A large amount of seed funding has been committed by several entities within the faith-based community. However, more is needed.
Supplying this additional need from TEFAP funds would greatly further the aims of TEFAP. Indeed, when the network is complete it will supply over thirty million pounds of produce each year for our nation's poor, and will be financially self sufficient from faith based and other private sector funding sources. In as much as a modest expenditure of TEFAP monies could make the success of this effort and others like it much more likely, this should be done where applicable.
In closing let me reiterate the burden of my remarks. We waste over ninety billion pounds of food per year in the United States. Much of this waste is produce. The amount of good, nutritious produce that is available to be donated to our nation's poor is functionally limitless. Through organizations like Society of St. Andrew and others, this produce can be effectively packaged and distributed to agencies that serve those in need. What is lacking is sufficient funding and a significant government/charity partnership arrangement that can make progress possible. Innovative use of the TEFAP program can make progress happen and I encourage you to move forward.