SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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USDA DOMESTIC FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROGRAMS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON DEPARTMENT OPERATIONS,
OVERSIGHT, NUTRITION, AND FORESTRY
COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SEVENTH CONGRESS
APRIL 3, 2001
Serial No. 1075
Printed for the use of the Committee on Agriculture
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For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
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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
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBOB 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
JOHN ELIAS BALDACCI, Maine
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMARION 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
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia, Chairman
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRICHARD 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
Clayton, Hon. Eva M., a Representative in Congress from the State of North Carolina, opening statement
Goodlatte, Hon. Bob, a Representative in Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia, opening statement
Hilliard, Hon. Earl F., a Representative in Congress from the State of Alabama, prepared statement
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWitnesses
Braley, George A., Acting Administrator, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Gay, Gary W., director, Food Distribution Division, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; on behalf of the American Commodity Distribution Association, Butner, NC
Grasty, Phil, director, strategic alliances, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Verona, VA
Hall, Hon. Tony P., a Representative in Congress from the State of Ohio
Horne, Ken, executive director, Society of St. Andrew, Big Island, VA
O'Brien, Douglas, director, public policy and research, America's Second Harvest, Chicago, IL
Robbins, Patricia, chief executive officer and president, Farm Share, Inc., Florida City, FL
United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable, submitted statement
USDA DOMESTIC FOOD DISTRIBUTION PROGRAMS
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCTUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2001
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Department Operations,
Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry,
Committee on Agriculture,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1:05 p.m., in room 1300 of the Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Bob Goodlatte (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Putnam and Clayton.
Staff present: Brent Gattis, staff director, Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry; Callista Gingrich, scheduler/clerk; Jay Jenson, professional staff; Ryan Flynn, and Walter Vinson.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. BOB GOODLATTE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Mr. GOODLATTE. Good afternoon. The purpose of this hearing is to receive testimony and written statements concerning the United States Department of Agriculture's domestic food distribution programs. The panelists we have assembled today will describe the benefits of the food assistance programs and why they are effective.
Food banks often meet the needs of their communities by managing donations from the Government and the private sector. Most Government donations are the product of the Emergency Food Assistance Program. It is a unique program that has the ability to provide nutritious domestic agriculture products to needy Americans, while at the same time, providing support to the agricultural community. The Welfare Reform bill made TEFAP a $100 million per year mandatory program through the year 2002. Congress did so because of the integral role TEFAP has in the provisions of food assistance to needy families.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC TEFAP is an important program to assist families through difficult times. It offers them support but doesn't trap them in the seemingly endless cycle of Federal assistance programs. TEFAP purchases also provide much needed support to the agricultural community. While other food assistance programs are much larger, TEFAP has a more direct impact for agriculture producers, while at the same time providing food for those in need.
It is important for this Congress to continue to ensure the effectiveness of our domestic food distribution programs, programs like TEFAP. As many of you may be aware, I have authored a bill in each of the last two Congresses that would improve the effectiveness of the TEFAP by allowing the Secretary to spend specific amounts of unused employment and training money on TEFAP commodity purchases. I intend to introduce a similar bill in this Congress, redistributing up to $40 million in unspent Food Stamp Employment and Training funds.
The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 included hundreds of millions of dollars for employment and training programs aimed at those able-bodied adults without depends whose eligibility for the Food Stamp Program was restricted by a work requirement in the Welfare Reform Act of 1996. The money is dedicated to training programs that keep any able-bodied adults without dependents on the food stamp rolls if they participate. Several hearings and reports, including a recent GAO report dated February 27 of this year, have said that the money is going unspent because very few are taking advantage of the programs. At the same time, food banks continue to report an increase in demand across the board.
We will hear from representatives of the food distribution industry to help explain how their programs operate to distribute food to the needy. I look forward to hearing the witnesses' testimony today. We have assembled uniquely qualified witnesses that will provide insight into the delivery of food assistance, and at this time, it is my pleasure to recognize the ranking member of the subcommittee, Mrs. Clayton of North Carolina.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOPENING STATEMENT OF HON. EVA M. CLAYTON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
Mrs. CLAYTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for calling this hearing today. It served once again to underscore the many roles that USDA is called upon to perform and remind us of the important link between the American farmer and those who still live under the shadow of hunger. I would like to welcome our witnesses and extend a special warm welcome to a North Carolinian, Gary Gay, whose work serving hungry people in North Carolina has been so impressive. But to all of you, thank you for your commitment to service and to highlighting the unfortunate fact that even amidst so much, so many still struggle.
Food banks and other private sector food providers have always played a critical role in addressing hunger in the United States, as have the Federal programs that helped them to operate. However, in recent years, demand at food banks has skyrocketed. I am sure we will hear more about this in the hearing.
In response to increased demand, food banks and other organizations have significantly increased their efforts to face an overwhelming need. They have responded with remarkable skill and passion, somehow always seeming to stretch their limited resources just a little further. But we also need to ask of ourselves, how much can the food bank spare? Where do our commodity programs fit within the overall strategy to end hunger within the United States? Where do the rapid and alarming declines in food stamp participation intersect with the increased demand at food banks? And what does this mean for the upcoming reauthorization of the Food Stamp Program?
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today to begin to answer these questions. I am also very pleased to have a leader in Congress who has been fighting hunger for a long time, Tony Hall, as well.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mrs. Clayton.
Any other statements from members of the subcommittee will be accepted at this time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hilliard follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. EARL F. HILLIARD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA
Mr. Chairman, members and guests, the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is very close to my heart. I serve the eighth poorest district in the Nation, and the private and public food distributed by food banks and other charities literally keeps body and soul together for many of my constituents. I commend the many groups in my district, from the Greater Birmingham Ministries to the many others that are not faith-based. The work they do is essential.
I support this Federal program and will continue to support it. Even during the long economic boom, which may have ended this year, the need for food distribution has increased, rather than dropped. The gap between the rich and poor has increased in our Nation to the greatest ratio in the world. This has left many hungry while others have grown extremely wealthy. The TEFAP does not close this gulf in wealth, but it does make a human and necessary difference.
TEFAP needs to be expanded, and support for its distribution should be considered in this Congress. The costs to charities is burdensome, and we need to relieve as much as we can, especially since the Government seems intent on increasing the work of these same institutions.
To our guests here, let me close by saying, ''Thank you'' from the constituents that I represent and from all Americans who are hungry in these times of prosperity. You feed the strangers who come to your doorsthey seem to many to be beneath consideration . . . but they may be angels . . . and so are you.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE.At this time, it is my pleasure to welcome our first panel to the table, and the whole panel is the outstanding representative from the State of Ohio, Congressman Tony Hall, who has been a leader in Congress for as long as I have been here, and I am sure before that, in the effort to make sure that people in need of food do not go without. And Congressman, I thank you for that effort and I thank you for joining us today.
STATEMENT OF HON. TONY P. HALL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
Mr. HALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member Clayton, and other members of the subcommittee. I am excited about being before you, and what you are all about, and these hearings that you are having, and I certainly applaud your efforts today to review the USDA domestic food distribution programs.
In the past few years, as you have said in your testimony, we have seen dramatic increases of individuals asking food pantries and soup kitchens for food. Just a few months ago, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness, they reported a 17 percent increase in requests for emergency food. Last October, I traveled into an Appalachian area, both into West Virginia, Kentucky, and southeast Ohio. And I stood at a food pantry in McArthur, OH and watched more than 300 people, old and young, stand and wait for food. And the households that they represented are 10 percent of the entire county. And for some, it was the only food that they would receive all month.
As a result of what is going on, I think even in my own district we have had a substantial number of people asking for an increase of food. And it is up 17 to 25 percent in that, almost every year for the past 3 years. It just keeps increasing. So the need for more food is present, but also, the need for funding to move that food is much more prevalent according to not only my own people, but people from all the over country that have to deal with this day in and day out.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By the way, Mr. Chairman, I am not going to read my statement. I would ask that it be included, and I will just look at parts of it and refer to it.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Without objection, it certainly will be made part of the record.
Mr. HALL. Currently, the expenses for storage, and distribution, and transportation on commodities are not being met. The Federal grant that a State is awarded is only used to distribute the entitled product which USDA purchases. So any bonus commodity a State receives is at the expense of the State and the subcontracted sub-distributors. In the past years, this burden has been minimal, states were able to stretch their dollars to cover the bonus commodities. However, in the last year, these bonus commodities have been doubled and they have almost tripled in some cases. In States like Virginia, and Missouri, and Ohio, the USDA has contracted with food banks to distribute TEFAP, but with an influx of bonus commodities which carries no distribution money, the food banks are eating the cost of storage, distribution, and transportation. In Ohio, it is high, and in Missouri and Virginia, they have estimated that there is an increase, and therefore, unmet need of $375,000 in administrative money to support TEFAP distribution for all food offerings.
States, they do have discretion. They don't have to accept this bonus product, but the need to feed the hungry is increasing and the product is healthy, it is safe, and it is shelf stable. Any agency that has accepted the call to serve wants bonus products to feed their neighbors, but we cannot expect the good will of these individuals to solely provide the necessary means. I was asked by the TEFAP administrator in my home State of Ohio, and he said to me, and I quote, ''Would you expect a commercial facility to accept, store, transport, and deliver 13 million pounds of commodities at no cost?'' And I guess I turn that question back to this committee. A food bank can only hold so many golf tournaments and fundraisers to try to pay for these kinds ofand these kind of devicesto pay for this free food. And it is our responsibility, I think, to provide the resources we can, and this involves, hopefully, increasing TEFAP to the authorized $50 million level.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There is also a need to increase food. Mr. Chairman, you talked about that and I hope to be sponsoring your bill with you and look forward to it. I am also pleased that right behind me is a good friend, Ken Horne, and his Society of St. Andrew is here today. They are a faith based organization. They are a kind of the premiere salvaging of food gleaners probably in the world today, and I think the last time I looked and asked them, they distribute food in all 50 States and in some countries outside of the United States.
Society of St. Andrew, they have forged partnerships with America's Second Harvest and other relief agencies to distribute 300 million pounds of food. The Society of St. Andrew's latest goal is to establish food recovery programs in every State over the next 6 to 8 years. And to start this project, the Society of St. Andrew is asking for Federal assistance in the development of another public/private partnership. And the funding that will be used will be used solely for packaging and transporting of the food.
I would also like to bring your attention to additional domestic food distribution programs. The first is the Commodity Supplemental Food Programs. The CSFP is another food and nutrition service program that provides nutritious foods each month to low income seniors and to pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children not eligible for WIC. This program is excellent, but only 23 States are enrolled due to a lack of funding. For example, Ohio, my State, applied for 10 years, and just last year we were accepted, but we were only allotted 2,000 slots.
The second is the Food Distribution on Indian Reservations Program. This is called the FDPIR. This was created to serve Native Americans on reservations due to the lack of grocery stores. And I am pleased to report that the FDPIR now has a fresh produce initiative, thanks to a former Mickey Leland-Bill Emerson Hunger Fellow that came out of the Congressional Hunger Center. Her name is Heidi Hattenbach and she worked with the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and then she came to the USDA. She had witnessed the lack of fresh produce on reservations. She was able to set up a whole new distribution program, and she did this without any new money by contracting with the Defense Department and their procurement agency. The program was so successful it won a Silver Hammer award for government innovation.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So these are the things that are on my heart today, Mr. Chairman, Mrs. Clayton. I am glad to be here before you. I hope that we can help our friends in the food bank, and soup kitchen, and food wholesalers, and the people that do all the administration of this. They performed vital work for our country, and they are under a tremendous strain. There has been a tremendous increase in the amount of food. And so I hope you consider some of these ideas. Thank you.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, thank you, Mr. Hall, and we appreciate hearing of your support for our effort. I take it you agree with the concept that if this money is not being used in the training program and in the last version of the bill which we introduced last yearit will be my intent to do it againthat made it clear that if the money were used, we would not take it for this purpose. But as long as that money is sitting there and not being used, that it would be better to use it for the purpose of making food available to food bank programs.
Mr. HALL. I agree with that, yes.
Mr. GOODLATTE. And I think you have already testified, but I wonder if you couldI take it you visit, as I do, food banks when you get the opportunity to do so. Has it been your universal experience that they are facing increased demands and the supply is not keeping up with that demand?
Mr. HALL. It really is. Normally, we do a survey across the country every year. We haven't done one this year, but I think the last 3 years, we write about 250 food banks and soup kitchens around the country and ask what is going on. And we always get back, over the past 3 years, a tremendous increase in asking of food, somewhere between 17 and 25 percent, sometimes even more over last year, and then 17 to 25 percent over the year before. So more and more people are coming in the food banks and soup kitchens, and more and more of them are the working poor and senior citizens. And what is happening is, especially with senior citizens that are on a small income, a fixed income, especially, the ones that are struggling with utility bills now and no help with prescription drugs, they find themselves going to food banks increasingly now. And they don't want to be there. They are embarrassed about it. Most people that go to food banks and soup kitchens, they are kind of embarrassed to be there, but they have to, and they are really, really struggling.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, we are getting a lot of commodities in, but we can always use more because the increase is always there. But what I am hearing more this year and late last year is the ability to pay for some of their administrative costs, and that is causing them to do a lot of different kinds of fundraisers, and as you know, these are difficult to do. And especially, with the bonus commodities, because they have doubled and tripled, because they don't, apparently, get help in that particular area. So they really need extra money there. They are just not making it very well there.
Mr. GOODLATTE. That would seem to be a similar problem that the Society of St. Andrew, that you referred to. Ken Horne is about as close to being in my district without being in my district as you can be in Big Island, VA, which is in, actually, Congressman Goode's district. But he does, as you noted, do a nationwide service, and the big problem in salvaging or gleaning all of that food that is potentially otherwise going to be wasted, and I just hate to see the most productive nation on Earth waste so much of the food we produce, is to get it to the places where it is needed. He needs some help in doing that. So I appreciate that.
I wonder if you are aware of any other legislation that Congress could enact that would help increase donations to food banks? Are there any other incentives for distributors to donate food?
Mr. HALL. Well, we have this bill, the Good Samaritan Tax Act, that I am a sponsor of, and Senator Lugar is in the Senate.
This would allow people like farmers and small businessmen to donate food to any number of groups. It is interesting, we treat food differently than we do other products. For example, if you are like a partnership and not a corporation, if X-Y-Z hardware store gives nails and hammers to Habitat for Humanity, they get a deduction; it is a standard deduction. If the Pizza Hut on the corner is owned in a partnership or it is a single ownership, if they give 1,000 pizzas, they don't get to write it off. Food is treated differently for some reason.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And we saw this happen in Cleveland, OH, where there is a number of stores there that were corporation stores that do get the credit on their taxes, but a lot of the stores became not company stores, but individually owned. And there was close to a 70 percent drop in pizzas in Cleveland, OH as a result of losing this tax deduction. So we do treat food differently. So the Good Samaritan Tax Act would really, really help.
I think the faith based initiative that the President is pushing in both the Senate and House, I am a supporter of that. And a lot of these faith based organizations are wonderful. And I know a lot of the reporters and a lot of the Members of Congress are saying, well, this is unheard of. I mean, we never heard of this. We have been doing this for years. And I think the faith based initiative, if it passes, will put a lot more food and a lot more money into not only rural areas, but urban areas, and will do it to those groups that have proven that they can do it. I mean, Ken's group, that is a faith based organization. They have been gleaning for years, salvaging food. Overseas, we handle hundreds of millions of dollars through faith based organizations, have been doing it for years. The three biggest in the world are Care, World Vision, and Catholic Relief Services. Well, two out of the three are faith based. We have never had a problem. And we do it in our cities and rural areas, and so I think the faith based initiative will really help, too.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Well, thank you. We appreciate your support in this effort, and those are all the softballs I have. We will see if Mrs. Clayton has some.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Here come the hardballs, huh? No. I just want to thank you for your continuous leadership and your caring compassionate embracing of this whole idea. I do want to expand the issue of hunger as we are talking about TEFAP today, that TEFAP, and food banks, and shelters, and kitchens, and special thingsI know my church has a food bankthat they are wonderful tools for those of us of faith and those persons of conscious who may not be of faith, because I subscribe that those of us who believe and those of us non-believe still have a moral responsibility. And it is a part of the supplement of a whole, and I don't want to put all the burden on the food banks. You indicated your visit to the Appalachians, 17 percent. I don't see quite that large an increase in my local area, but actually, I hear from my food banks that say we can't handle the load. Somebody else is not picking up this load. We are picking up somebody else's load.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And in our embrace to get faith based and non-profit's and those of us who get in the hunger businessand I have done this now. I didn't come to Congress to do this. This has been a part of my avocation for a long time. But we can't let Government and other programs, slide either. And here is where the food stamp is a piece I am talking about. We are seeing a drastic decrease in the participation of food stamps. I don't know why. I would like to think it is good, because the economy is doing well, but that decrease is larger than the decrease in poverty, and yet, the increase of the burden on food banks. But I don't know how we balance this out to make sure we keep these good partners we have in the faith based, and shelter, and non-profit's, carrying their load but not shifting a greater responsibility on them and balancing this out.
I spoke with the Secretary of Agriculture during a Budget Committee hearing about the enormous amount of paperwork that we cause people to go through, and how degrading it is for an individual to have to go through that for $10 a month. If I wanted to go to get a loan from the Federal bank for $250,000, we would do half the amount. So there are things that are happening out there that is causing a lack of embracing opportunities and tools because people have self-respect. And when they go to the food bank, they know, indeed, the people there embrace them as human beings. You don't have to do all the procedure, you are not testing all the IQ's. If you need food, you get food. But that shifting of responsibility can't be ignored if we are really serious about speaking to the hunger of America. I would like for you to comment on that, please.
Mr. HALL. Well, I think you put your finger on one of the problems with food stamps, because as we travel around to different places, we ask people, why don't you apply for food stamps, because we know they are eligible. Well, you know, they give all kinds of reasons, but, one, it is cumbersome. They have to fill out a lot questions, a lot of pages; two, they are embarrassed. We don't make it easier, we have made it tougher. So you have put your finger on the one problem, is that it is a very, very long questionnaire in many, many States, and then they fill out this questionnaire, and then maybe they get $10 in food stamps, and they figure, why mess with it?
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Second, when we passed the Welfare Reform bill, I think we cut food stamps something like $29 or $27 billion over 10 years. We never made that up. And we try to make it up a little bit in TEFAP and commodities, but we never made that up. That is why even under the best of times, which we are in right now and have been, why you are seeing this increase over the past 3 years, because something had to give. If you cut $29 billion, where are these people going to make up the difference? And so when senior citizens, for example, have a fixed income and they get sick, as you see so many of them, they don't get help on their prescription drugs. Utility bills have gone up. They find themselves once a month going to a food bank or soup kitchen. And the working poor, because many of them, many of the people that used to be on welfare are now working, which is great. But they are working at a level, at a salary that is very, very low. And they are glad to do work and it is great, but with their utility bills, the fact that they don't have healthcare for the most part, they find themselves going once a month to a food bank, soup kitchen, and that is not going to end.
The faith based initiative, if I understand where you are going with that, this is not the answer. I don't want to tell you, or believe, that it is an answer because does Government have a responsibility? Absolutely. But at the same time, when we try to solve problems in a city where there is homelessness, or hunger, or addiction, or violence in the home, the problem belongs to everybody. It belongs to the Government, it belongs to churches, it belongs to temples, it belongs to the people that are doing the job. We have never really included them because we pretty much, even though we given money through faith based, we require them to set up an organization, 501(c3), which is fine if you are a large institution. You can hire attorneys, you have people that can do this for you. But most congregations can't do that.
And the reason I like faith based organizationsand I am involved in some projects here in Washington, DC. My district doesn't know it, but I don't do it for my district. But there are some groups over here in Anacostia, some friends of mine, and they work on this street where this is the murder area of Washington, DC. There are more murders on this street every year than any place. This organization, they work with the kids at Anacostia High School, and the kids come in after school, and they have a recording studio, and they have a weight room, and they have a library, and they talk to these kids, they love them. You go into the high school with them, the teachers and they children, they embrace them. I mean, they are like pied pipers. There is no secular group that is going out there. There is no competition. They do it because of their faith, and that is the only reason they do it. But they can separate it, and they separate it very nicely. That is the kind of group we ought to be helping, and I think that is what the faith based initiative is about, to help those people that are doing the job but they are always struggling with money. They are always struggling. Well, this group in Anacostia and many groups like that across the country, if it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have any programs at all there. Why shouldn't they be part of the mix? Maybe if we gave them a little bit of money, they could do even twice what they are doing. So that is why I am excited about faith based.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mrs. Clayton, and thank you, Mr. Hall. And I agree with you. I think organizations, when they are reaching out to help people, we shouldn't try to draw a line between what their motivation might be. We have got to make sure that the motivation isn't to use the Government money to propagate their beliefs, but I see that very seldom. What I usually see is a friend or a neighbor who in the case of a food bank or a pantry that may be getting their food from the food bank, they may be working out of a church. It may be a church based organization, but when they deliver that bag of groceries to help that person get through the week or the month, they are also finding out how their children are doing in school, whether somebody needs a ride to the doctor, whether somebody needs help finding a job in the family, and it is real grassroots people helping people, and that is really what a successful community, a community successful dealing with poverty, to me, is all about, and it puts the personality back into a sometimes otherwise big impersonal Government programs, which we need, too. I am not disputing that, although, I was and still am a strong supporter of the welfare reforms and changing the approach to being one of a hand-up instead of a handout. By itself, that doesn't meet all the needs. You have got to have people there who truly are there ready and willing to help, and so much of it could be boosted by a little more help from government to these organizations. That is, hopefully, what we are all about today. I thank you very much for your testimony and we look forward to working with you on this legislation.
Mr. HALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. We are now pleased to welcome our second panel to the table: Mr. George A. Braley, Acting Administrator of the Food and Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Mr. Douglas O'Brien, director of Public Policy and Research at America's Second Harvest in Chicago, IL; Mr. Gary W. Gay, director of Food Distribution Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and also here on behalf of the American Commodity Distribution Association in Butner, NC; Mr. Phil Grasty, the director of Strategic Alliances, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, in Verona, VA; Mr. Ken Horne, executive director of the Society of St. Andrew in Big Island, VA; and Ms. Patricia Robbins, chief executive officer and president of Farm Share, Inc., in Florida City, FL.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to welcome all of you to the subcommittee and let you know that your written statements will be made a part of the record, and we would invite you to give your testimony at this point. And because of the large number, we would ask you to limit your comments to 5 minutes, and we will start with Mr. Braley. Thank you very much.
We are delighted to have you with us today.
STATEMENT OF GEORGE A. BRALEY, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
Mr. BRALEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Congresswoman Clayton, for having me here today to testify before the subcommittee as we review the Department's commodity nutrition assistance programs and consider how these vital programs can be enhanced. The Department of Agriculture is very proud of its commodity programs and the role they play in supplementing and supporting our other nutrition assistance programs. Of course, the programs are also extremely important, as you acknowledged in your opening statement, Mr. Chairman, because they provide important support for farmers and ranchers throughout the country as well as to the needy people who benefit from the food distribution on the other end of the process.
Currently, FNS provides nutritious commodities to meal service operations such as the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Nutrition Program for the Elderly. Commodity support for these programs is currently at about 1.1 billion pounds of food on an annual basis. We also provide low income individuals and families with commodities for consumption at home through one of the programs that Congressman Hall mentioned, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and the Emergency Food Assistance Programs, as well as in cases of natural disasters.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, I understand that this subcommittee may soon consider legislation to increase funds for food distribution through TEFAP by reallocating up to $40 million in unspent Food Stamp Program Employment and Training Funds. The reallocation would allow additional TEFAP commodities to be purchased and distributed above and beyond the dollar amount currently specified in section 27 of the Food Stamp Act. This reallocation would increase TEFAP outlays up to $40 million per year.
The Department is proud of the food assistance that TEFAP has provided over the past 20 years and appreciates the continued support of this subcommittee. As you know, the very popular TEFAP got its start during the administration of former President Reagan as a common sense approach to the problem of bulging Government warehouses that contained cheese and lots of other dairy products and grain items as well and to make these products available to America's needy. Since its inception, TEFAP has played a key role in supplementing the other food assistance programs by providing commodities to soup kitchens, food banks, and food pantries. In addition, since these emergency food organizations typically distribute large quantities of food donated by the private sector, as well as USDA, TEFAP administrative funds provide scarce cash needed by these programs for an effort that is far larger than just the distribution of USDA foods.
As we review the needs of TEFAP this afternoon, it is important to reflect on how the program has evolved over time. States no longer have mass distribution systems. Instead, they rely heavily on food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries to reach people who are in need of food.
In recent years, Congress has provided a more stable source of funding for the purchases of commodities with the level of about $100 million available for direct purchase commodities. And for the last several years, as Congressman Hall mentioned, substantial bonus commodities as well. The most recent infusion of bonus commodities is a consequence of the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000, which is Public Law 106224, which provided the Department with an additional $200 million to assist depressed farm markets and to donate to our domestic food programs, including TEFAP. We expect about half of that $200 million worth of food to find a home in the TEFAP.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, the Department appreciates the intent of your proposed bill and we pledge to work closely with you to explore ways to help our partners, such as America's Second Harvest and the Society of St. Andrew, reach people in need of food assistance. At the same time that we consider the best ways to meet the needs of TEFAP, we also want to make sure that we can do so without adversely impacting States' ability to provide employment and training opportunities to able-bodied adults without dependents for the so called ABAWD population and food stamps. ABAWD's are subject to a 3-month food stamp participation limit and comprise an especially vulnerable and hard to serve population and are rarely eligible for other benefits.
The USDA would be pleased to work with you and the subcommittee to ensure that available resources are targeted wisely in support of our Nation's nutrition assistance programs. All of the Food and Nutrition Service programs are important to the people they serve, and our nutrition programs are the cornerstones for reaching our goals of eliminating hunger and improving the nutrition and health of Americans.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony and I would be happy to answer your questions at an appropriate time
[The prepared statement of Mr. Braley appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you very much, Mr. Braley. We are now pleased to have with us Doug O'Brien of the Second Harvest, and Doug, you have been working with us for a long time to improve our food bank programs and we are glad to have you back.
STATEMENT OF DOUGLAS O'BRIEN, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC POLICY AND RESEARCH, AMERICA'S SECOND HARVEST, CHICAGO, IL
Mr. O'BRIEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Congresswoman Clayton. It is good to see you again. She spoke at our conference just the other day and I want to thank you again.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC America's Second Harvest is the Nation's largest hunger relief charity. We are a network comprised of food banks in all 50 States and Puerto Rico. Last year we provided food assistance to an estimated 26 million low income people, including 21 million Americans in emergency feeding settings, such church pantries, and soup kitchens, congregate meal sites for the elderly poor, and homeless shelters.
And as Congressman Hall mentioned, more than 70 percent of the member food pantries and soup kitchens served by our network are religious institutions. Of the food bank, some which are on the panel today, two-thirds of all private sector donations to food banks are provided by local sources, such as church or synagogue food drives, supermarkets, grocery stores, and farmers, who make their fields available for a second harvest for the hungry.
Last year our network distributed more than 1.7 billion pounds of food to low income people, representing roughly half of all private food relief in the United States. In additional to the considerable private source food assistance, our network delivers our food. Most of our food banks also distribute TEFAP commodities, and we were greatly helped in 1996 when the Congress reformed TEFAP by combining the program and the Soup Kitchen/Food Bank Donation Program, authorizing mandatory commodity purchases, and generally, streamlining program administration. With those modest reforms, commodity donations to food banks and other agencies increased by more than double after 1996.
In fiscal year 2001, TEFAP mandatory food purchases are at $100 million and administrative money at $45 million. I think the important thing to remember as you approach your authorization debate is in addition to TEFAP's important food assistance function, the surplus commodity donations made through TEFAP have a small but important agricultural support function as well.
In fiscal year 2001, TEFAP mandatory food purchases not only help feed 15 million needy Americans. The program also helped provide between $27 million and $85 million in direct farm income benefits. If surplus commodities are also factored in, the range of farm sector income benefit in fiscal year 2000 rises to the range between $70 million to $200 million. More than $100 million, for example, in fruit and vegetable purchases, $34 million in livestock purchases, $6 million in poultry purchases. And for just one sector; for example, pear growers, meant $20 million in additional food assistance.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I would suggest, Mr. Chairman and Congressman Clayton, that in light of the considerable distress much of American agriculture is currently experiencing, no market should be considered too small. Particularly, one that also has the win for so many hungry Americans.
The late Congressman Bill Emerson of Missouri, who was chairman of this subcommittee, once said that if TEFAP didn't exist, we would have to invent it. Unfortunately, the conditions that helped Mr. Emerson become one of the most stalwart supporters of TEFAP, and a great advocate, generally, for hungry Americans, has not changed considerably. America continues to have a significant problem of hunger and food insecurity amidst prosperity.
A review by Tuft's University Center on Hunger and Poverty of national, and State, and local studies of demand for emergency food assistance saw a range of increased need across the board between 14 percent and a high of 38 percent, as witnessed by Catholic Charities. Unfortunately, the growing demand for emergency food assistance has in too many incidences outstripped our ability to provide aid. Our study of out network food banks indicated that between 115,000 and 800,000 low income people were denied assistance because a charity they turned to for help had no food.
We urge the subcommittee to consider the shortfalls in food resources that charitable sectors had to contend with the and the rising uses for our services in the upcoming reauthorization discussion. One area we hope the subcommittee will consider is a critical issue that comes Congressman Hall alluded to earlier, the critical issue of costs associated with surplus commodities. For many food banks or the private hunger relief charities, this issue has become a significant burden and a drain on private resources, though, we are extremely aided by the additional food.
Another reform we would like the subcommittee to consider in reauthorization is to raise the administrative authorization from $50 million to $60 million and have the authorization more on the administrative funds more accurately reflect in title how the grants are actually used. For more than a decade, Congress has annually appropriated no more than $45 million in administrative funding, despite a more than 400 percent increase in commodities and in inflation.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Lastly, we strongly urge the subcommittee to consider raising the mandatory funding levels for TEFAP. In an effort to raise those commodity levels, we supported your bill with Mr. Hall, the Emergency Food Assistance Act, in the last Congress. We are also supportive of legislation that I understand Congressman Clayton, and Mr. Walsh, and Mr. Hall are considering that would also increase TEFAP.
I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, in light of the considerable agricultural surpluses of the last few years, and more than 96 billion pounds in wasted food annually, and substantial budget surpluses, it is morally unacceptable to allow tens of thousands of needy Americans to go hungry. President Reagan's Task Force on Food Assistance in 1984 concluded, ''Hunger is simply not acceptable in our society.'' We agree with that view. 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. We are now pleased to have with us Mr. Gary Gay, director of Food Distribution Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. And Mrs. Clayton, do you want to say anything in regard to
Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes. Mr. Gay is now the upcoming president of the American Commodity Distribution. He has been a leader in the State of North Carolina. He has provided excellent service as the Director of the Distribution Program. I had an opportunity to speak to his National Convention last week. Welcome, Mr. Gay.
STATEMENT OF GARY W. GAY, DIRECTOR, FOOD DISTRIBUTION DIVISION, NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES, BUTNER, NC
Mr. GAY. Thank you, Congresswoman Clayton, and I do appreciate you coming down last Monday and speaking to our group. You brought a great message.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Good afternoon, Chairman Goodlatte. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today about the Emergency Food Assistance Program. 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 non-profit 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 TEFAP and other programs that are part of the USDA's commodity distribution system. This subcommittee has had a long history of supporting these programs and you are continuing the tradition of past chairmen, such as Congressmen Bill Emerson and Charlie Stenholm. I would also like to thank Representative Clayton for her longstanding support for these programs.
As you know, the level of TEFAP commodity purchases varied significantly over the last decade. For example, in recent years, the overall TEFAP budget, which includes storage and distribution funding, has ranged from a low of $65 million to a high of $172 million. As part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Congress amended TEFAP's authorizing statute to provide $100 million annually in mandatory commodity purchases. This step was intended to ensure a constant and predictable flow of commodities and eliminate the 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 volume of bonus commodities, however, fluctuates from year to year depending on agricultural market conditions, and these products, although important, are not predictable.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC TEFAP's authorization expires at the end of fiscal year 2002. In addition to proposals to increase TEFAP commodity purchases, there are several issues ACDA would like to recommend for the subcommittee's consideration during the reauthorization process.
Storage and Distribution Funding. The TEFAP statute authorizes up to $50 million annually to pay for administrative costs. ACDA recommends that this account be renamed, Storage and Distribution Costs, to accurately reflect how this money is used. Virtually all of the 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. Regrettably, the term, administrative costs, 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.
TEFAP is also in desperate need of additional storage and distribution funds. The current fiscal year $45 million has been appropriated, but this is far short of what is necessary. 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 also increased significantly. This has forced some States to refuse commodities. ACDA believes it would be appropriate to somehow link the amount of storage and distribution funds to the amount of bonus commodities that are available. We believe this would be preferable to simply authorizing a higher level and a more prudent approach to providing funding.
Funding Carryover. This statute should be amended to allow States to carryover a portion of their storage and distribution funds from one fiscal year to the next. This is necessary to pay for the 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.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC A Leveraging of USDA's Purchasing Power. USDA should be authorized, but not required, to act as a purchasing agent for States that supplement their TEFAP. A number of States fund additional TEFAP commodity purchases. If USDA could act as a purchasing agent for these States, it would give them the option of benefiting from the Department's enormous buying power, and hopefully, receive more products for their limited dollars. A similar service has been authorized since 1997 for the National School Lunch Program.
The agricultural community, in general, has long recognized the importance of TEFAP and been a strong supporter it he 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 the commitments to reduce subsidies for domestic agricultural producers under international trade agreements. TEFAP falls in the category which has been called the ''Green Box'' program, which are exempt from these commitments and allow the United States to support domestic producers by purchasing food for distribution to needy Americans.
There is one other item that is not really concerning TEFAP, but it does affect the National School Lunch Program. I would like to cover this, and that is to restore the minimum level of commodity assistance with the School Lunch Program. On October 1, if this is not fixed, we stand to lose $55 million in commodities that could go to the School Lunch Program, and that is $55 million that would come from farmers, too. This is something this committee fixed 2 years ago and I would like to see them act on this again.
Mr. Chairman, again, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I would be happy to answer any questions you or members of the subcommittee may have. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Gay appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Gay. And now, we are pleased to have one of my constituents, Mr. Phil Grasty, with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, has testified before this committee before, and I understand you have some other food bank representatives with you. Would you like to introduce those before you start?
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
STATEMENT OF PHIL GRASTY, DIRECTOR OF STRATEGIC ALLIANCES, BLUE RIDGE AREA FOOD BANK, VERONA, VA
Mr. GRASTY. Yes, sir. I certainly would. I would like to introduce Marty White, who is my successor as executive director of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Marty, stand up so everybody can see you here. And also, Rod Plowman, who is a special projects manager with Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. And while she is not an employee of Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, I would like to introduce Pam Irvine, who is a director of Verona Food Bank.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Please do.
Mr. GRASTY. She does my secretarial work for me, you know.
Mr. GOODLATTE. You had better be careful, Phil. You are going to get in big trouble.
Mr. GRASTY. That is right. Chairman Goodlatte and Congresswoman Clayton, I appreciate the honor of being here. As so often happens, Congressman Hall and Doug O'Brien pretty much talked about everything that is in my testimony so if I may take the liberty, I would like to speak more from a grass roots level, local level, as far as TEFAP is concerned and so forth. All of the points that were made about the administrative costs and all that pretty well, I think, have been covered, so I would like to bring it down home a little bit if I may.
I work for an organization called Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, Inc., located in the Shenandoah Valley. We operate branches in Lynchburg, Winchester, and Charlottesville, in addition to Verona. But in addition to working for Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, I am closely associated with the Federation of Virginia Second Harvest Food Banks. And I would like to talk a little bit about the State experience as opposed to the national experience.
Congresswoman Clayton mentioned her relationship to her church pantry, and I think that almost everybody in this room knows what a food bank is, and I was very happy to see you a moment ago talking about the difference between a pantry and a food bank, and there is a difference. Within the Commonwealth of Virginia, America's Second Harvest Food Banks serve 3,000 churches or faith based organizations as we are talking about, and these 3,000 churches have numerous volunteers, probably, the most efficient run organization in the country. And I am sure Ken also distributes to large churches, too. Just in Virginia, we serve 3,000 of these local faith based organizations, and Congressman Hall alluded to the increase in need, and we found that to certainly be true on the local level. While I and my food bank applaud welfare reform, and all the good it has done, and all the things it has made happen, it has created a whole new segment of a population which we refer to as the working poor, which means it could be that a man and his wife both are working in a family and still not generating enough income to meet their family's total needs. And they don't rely on food banks for the whole month, but at some point in time, there is too much month at the end of the money, and they have to go for assistance. So this whole new category of people is involved, so the need is increasing.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One great benefit of TEFAP for local food banks is the fact that it is very nutritious, it is very stable, it is very consistent. Food banks have two major goals. One of those is to supply enough food to the people that need it, but the other one is to supply good nutritious food to these people. And TEFAP certainly meets that bill. It certainly does that for us.
But to reiterate what Congressman Hall and what Mr. O'Brien said, the administrative costs don't begin to cover the handling of the cost for the food bank. In the Commonwealth of Virginia alone, this past year there was $428,000 short of covering the minimal amount of 14 cents a pound, which is what we use as a number for administrative costs. So there was a $428,000 shortfall in the administrative costs. We do appreciate the additional products, the bonus products, but when you look at the bottom line, we are saving the State quite a bit of money because there is no storage involved. Everything comes directly to the food bank, but we do need something additional to cover that.
But the bottom line is that TEFAP is a great source of product, which food banks need very badly. But more importantly, needy people need it very badly. Our food bank in the Commonwealth of Virginia certainly applaud your efforts as far as your new legislation. So we are, needless to say, very much excited about the food bank, but we are very squeezed as far as the expense of handling TEFAP, so we are looking forward to that.
And just one other program I wanted to mention before I exceed my 5 minutes is the food banks have a great program called Kids Cafe, which is we feed at risk kids, many thousands in Virginia each month, and we would like to look at the reimbursement rate that we are able to achieve from that program. I think it is 52 cents at the snack rate. We would like to see that expanded to $1.12, which is a meal rate. So I don't know if anyone is looking at that or not, but that is a food program that is very important to us. Thank you for allowing me to be here.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC [The prepared statement of Mr. Grasty appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. We will take a look at that. We now are pleased to welcome Ken Horne, executive director of the Society of St. Andrew. Ken, we are glad to have you with us.
STATEMENT OF KENNETH C. HORNE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOCIETY OF ST. ANDREW, BIG ISLAND, VA
Mr. HORNE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Mrs. Clayton. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today. Needless to say, I, like most of the rest of us, am in favor of increasing the TEFAP administrative funds dramatically. I think we have an opportunity to deliver to the food bank system and food pantry system in this country a great deal more food for an awful lot less money than it normally costs us.
Let me limit my remarks to something I know something about, which is produce. And I want to make three points, and then I want to make three suggestions as to things we might think about doing. And then I want to shut up, because I will be out of intelligent ideas at that point.
In the first place, there is a functionally unlimited supply of produce that can be donated and used for the feeding of our poor. And I say functionally unlimited, because if you salvaged everything we throw away, you would feed everybody that ever got hungry until they couldn't eat anymore. We throw away so much food.
In the second place, there is great need, as you have heard from the rest of the folks, and I am not going to elaborate any further on that, but there is great need. We see it at Society of St. Andrew. Our demand is up over what it was 10 years ago.
In the third place, salvaging produce and delivering it to food banks, and soup kitchens, and the like is relatively cheap. It costs about a nickel a pound, whether you ship it from a warehouse to a food bank in a tractor trailer truck or you organize groups, volunteers, to go out and glean and distribute it right there in local communities. You still get down staff costs and transportation, hide, hair, and feathers, it cost you about a nickel a pound, which is a pretty good deal for, basically, any kind of produce that you can think about supplying anyone.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC TEFAP, it seems to me, if we can find a way to increase the administrative funds, it can be used in some very innovative ways to make more of these vegetables available to people who feed the poor in the United States, and I would suggest three approaches.
In the first place, in the individual States that have administrative funds, when they choose to expend those funds for the transportation and packaging of produce to supplement their other USDA commodities, we can deliver to them, not only we, but America's Second Harvest functions, basically, the same thing in their national delivery program as we do. If we could increase funds by $5 million to the States, parcel it out amongst them, it would equal 100 million pounds of produce a year in addition to what they are receiving now. If we are thinking about increasing these funds, we ought to think in terms of supplying vegetables along with everything else. And if you can supply food, it seems to me, for a nickel a pound, you ought to go after that and do that. We need to do all that we can do.
The second suggestion that I have for you today is that both we and America's Second Harvest have experienced this. Every single year, we get a call from somebody who has got 10 million pounds of this or 15 million pounds of that. For this year, as a matter of fact, it is Idaho potatoes. There is whata billion plus pounds. They are going to throw them out. The market doesn't want them, or whatever the cause is, but they are going to discard this food, and they call you up on the phone, and you have got a month to haul it away. Now, America's Second Harvest, the Society of St. Andrew, and all the little fish in the ocean that do this are never going to have enough money to deal with this, even at a nickel a pound. Ten million pounds is a half-million dollar problem, and we never have funding for that. We spend our money when it comes in because people are hungry. But if a way could be found to set aside, perhaps, or however you do that, some TEFAP funding to create a million dollar fund that Second Harvest and we could draw on for these emergency offerings. We could salvage that food and get it distributed in the 4 weeks we are given. We just don't have the money. That is the second suggestion I have for you.
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The third suggestion real quick is to replicate, to use TEFAP funds to replicate successful salvage programs. We have already spoken about our gleaning network that we are trying to set up. There are programs that salvage venison in the several States, and there is what15, 16 States looking to establish these kinds of things that can be done with a little bit of seed money. There is California has a very successful statewide gleaning program. So does Arizona. You can do this in Texas, and Florida, and Mississippi, and lots of different places with a little bit of seed money to start these things up.
So those three are approaches, it seems to me, have some merit, and I commend them to you. And I am going to be very virtuous and stop before my 5 minutes are up. You have got 14 seconds to play with. Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Horne appears at the conclusion of the hearing.]
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you, Mr. Horne. We will try to recompense you by trying to find a way to include you in this legislation to help organizations like yours improve the distribution system to get the food that you glean to the food banks that could distribute it to people. And we are also pleased to have with us Ms. Patricia Robbins, the chief executive officer and president of Farm Share, Inc. Ms. Robbins, welcome.
STATEMENT OF PATRICIA ROBBINS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND PRESIDENT, FARM SHARE, FLORIDA CITY, FL
Ms. ROBBINS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Congresswoman Clayton. I wanted to tell you a little bit about our Farm Share Program. We are a food recovery program in Homestead, Florida. I want to bring you to a front row seat as to what a TEFAP actually does with the money and the food. Grassroots programs like Farm Share leverage the administrative funding, bringing fresh vegetables along with the beans, rice, meat to the hungry.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC When you give TEFAP food to a family, you feed the children, disabled, and elderly. When you provide this food in dollars through a program like Farm Share, you multiply these dollars and send a message to the community that we care. The farmer gives the food to Farm Share. The TEFAP gives the pipeline an additional food accountability, and the community becomes involved in the distribution.
It is innovative, comprehensive, and effective, a program like Farm Share. While most food recovery programs and food banks share many of the same characteristics in their efforts to recover and distribute surplus food, Farm Share stands out as innovative, comprehensive, and highly effective. Farm Share distributes 33 percent of all the USDA TEFAP foods in Florida. Farm Share distributes foods to agencies and individuals at no cost and without imposing fees of any kind. We operate the only charitable produce packing house in Florida, and to our knowledge, in the eastern United States. Farm Share ships food throughout the State of Florida and the eastern seaboard.
As a public/private partnership with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, which provide warehouse facilities, support, staff, equipment, and services, and with the Florida Department of Corrections, which provides up to 24 inmates and two correctional officers daily, for sorting, packaging, and distributing donated food, Farm Share provides food to hundreds of non-profit organizations that serve nearly 900,000 meals monthly to more than 120,000 needy households.
We also directly distribute food to more than 4,000 registered local households composed of migrant workers, single mothers, elderly, disabled, and other low income recipients. We offer nutrition education courses to all the recipients, thus, assisting them in better nutritional and economic choices when shopping for groceries. We receive bulk food that has to be sorted, packed, and we ship it by the tractor trailer load to these recipient agencies. More than 14 million pounds of fresh nutritious fruits and vegetables were shipped last year to participating agencies throughout the eastern seaboard.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Farm Share concentrates its efforts on the solicitation of food that has nutritional value, fresh produce, canned or frozen meats and vegetables. We keep administrative costs low by the use of VISTA and WAGES programs in addition to the partnerships with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Corrections. We are located on several farmer's markets in Florida. The headquarters being a 53,000 square-foot packing house located in Homestead, FL in the heart of Miami's Dade County agricultural area. This provides easy access to produce, farmers, packers, brokers, and wholesalers who freely donate fruits and vegetables to Farm Share. We have the capacity to store more than 12 tractor trailer loads of refrigerated food and seven tractor trailer loads of frozen food, as well as dozens of tractor trailer loads of dry food.
Our accomplishments are in last year's in-kind contributions of food, there was more than $22 million worth of food donated to the Farm Share program. We have in the 9 years that our program has been established distributed more than 90 million pounds of fresh produce and fruits and vegetables to the hungry in the United States.
We support increasing the TEFAP funding because those fundings are what we use to pay our electric bill. We use it for transportation. Because the State of Florida shares those administrative costs to programs like Farm Share, grassroots programs who can take those administrative dollars and with that add to the food going to feed the hungry in our Nation. So I encourage you to support the funding increased dollars for the TEFAP and please come and visit us in Florida and see how a program like Farm Share works, how the people do not have to stand in long lines. We have a card scan system. We do mass household distribution to 4,000 families monthly, and the wait time is 5 minutes. These families pick up approximately 85 pounds of food when they come and visit the Farm Share Program. So I encourage you to increase the funding and help us all. Thank you.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. And I can assure you, I always take very seriously invitations to Florida.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. ROBBINS. Especially, this time of year, sir.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Mr. Braley, does the administration agree that there is a need to increase funding for the TEFAP?
Mr. BRALEY. The administration has not taken a position on the particular needs of the TEFAP at this time. I will say that some of the comments in terms of the State demand, or need, for administrative funding in the program, we have heard those. I, too, was at the conference in Greensboro last week, heard Congresswoman Clayton speak, and Mr. Gay as well, and there is an increasing interest in making sure there are adequate administrative dollars to support the increases in distribution that we have had this year as a result of the extra bonus purchases that I and others talked about.
Mr. GOODLATTE. What is the future of those bonus purchases? Do you anticipate there will be more in the coming years?
Mr. BRALEY. It is difficult to look out that far, but I don't see the farm economy improving dramatically enough to eliminate bonus purchases, so I don't know that there will be an amount of money like the $200 million we had in the Agriculture Risk Protection Act, necessarily, but even prior to that, our bonus purchases had increased pretty dramatically over what they were just a few years ago. And it is kind of a cyclical situation in the agricultural economy, and I am really not qualified to look too far into the future on that, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Do you know what particular commodities were purchased under that program?
Mr. BRALEY. I have a fairly long list of commodities that we have purchased under the bonus part as well as the entitlement part, and it is actually quite lengthy. Let's seenonfat dry milk, frozen pork sausage, ground pork, frozen lamb roast, cranberry sauce, cranberry drink, frozen cherries, raspberry puree, frozen peaches, probably 40 or 50 items that I would be happy to supply for the record. That doesn't mean that everybody gets an unlimited supply of all of those, but we have made some bonus purchases of those items over the past year and put them out through the TEFAP distribution network.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. We would definitely like to have a copy of that list for the record, and suggest to you that having an increase in the mandatory funding allows for some flexibility in terms of making sure that the products that are made available to food banks are well distributed amongst the various food groups and that we not have shortages of particular types that, you know, the bonus program is geared more towards helping the commodity sector of the agricultural market, which is important, is one of the functions of the TEFAP. But we also want to make sure that food banks are getting commodities that they need.
Mr. BRALEY. That is certainly true, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. No one has talked about the source that we are proposing here of getting this funding. I wonder if you are familiar with the Employment and Training Program and the fact that it had $330 million available in fiscal year 2000 but only spent less than $100 million of that. I don't believe the States are expected to spend much more than that this year, and I am wondering if the administration has any plans for this excess money.
Mr. BRALEY. I am not in a position to discuss plans for use of those funds today, but you are correct in that the carryover from last year to this year was $231 million, and the additional appropriate of $194 million new budget authority makes available $425 million this year. We do expect an increase in spending for the Employment and Training Program, but again, a relatively modest one, so we expect a fairly large carryout from 2001 into 2002 as well, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. So since the enactment of the program in 1996, we are talking about many hundreds of millions of dollars that have gone unspent for that program?
Mr. BRALEY. Several hundred million, and it was anticipated that that program would grow over time and we have seen some of that growth, but it is fair to say that there is a significant carryover balance there.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. Mr. O'Brien, I wonder if you can tell us how commodities are purchased under the TEFAP?
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. O'BRIEN. Well, as Mr. Braley mentioned, there are really two primary types. One of the mandatory purchases which were funded in 1996 until reauthorization in 2002 at $100 million annually. And unless the appropriators choose as part of their annual appropriations process to reduce that amount of money, it stays fairly constant. The significant growth, though, has been in the surplus commodities which are, in effect, of USDA's market support activity. We went in fiscal year 1998 from, roughly, $20 million in surplus commodities moving to food banks through TEFAP, to where we are in fiscal year 2000, where the number is $162 million in surplus commodities moving through TEFAP. And the disparity that, I think, Mr. Gay and others on this panel talked about, has been that while surplus commodities have grown dramatically in fiscal year 1998 and fiscal year 1999 and fiscal year 2000 and 2001, the administrative levels have stayed at $45 million.
So the amount of money it costs to move in Pam Irvine's food bank, for example, the cost of moving food from Roanoke to far southwestern Virginia in Mr. Goode's district, for example, someone has got to pay the gas and someone has got to pay for someone to drive the truck. I mean, there are costs associated that the administrative money is used for, but it hasn't gone up even though commodities have gone up dramatically.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Unless I don't know something about redistricting, that would be Congressman Boucher's district, and I think he hopes it stays that way. But your point is well taken. Mr. Gay, you mentioned, as have several others, the problem with distribution of these commodities. I wonder if you could describe the process for distributing them. Do you contract with private haulers or do you have an in-house distribution system? How do you get that food distributed?
Mr. GAY. Well, I guess, in North Carolina we are a little different than a lot of the other States, where we have State warehouses. So the problem with the distribution really doesn't affect our agency. It affects what we call the food banks and the local non-profits at the county level. They are the ones that once they get the food to them, for them to get it out to their county, or the households in their district, the problem lays with them. They don't have the funding to get it out in their pipeline.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And I can just give you what is going on in our State. We reimburse agencies a percentage of what they distribute. And it started out 2 years ago, we were doing 25 percent. As the increase of commodities in the TEFAP, the bonus, we are now down to 8 percent reimbursement. So we are at rock bottom, because I have been told, you know, in talking to the agencies, if you cut anymore, we just can't take it. We are going to have to get off the program. And if they do that, then there is going to be counties in North Carolina that is not going to have TEFAP flowing into it. It will come to the county line, you might say, and stop. So that is the problem where we need more administrative dollars so we can pass it down to the local level for them to move the commodities throughout the county.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you. My time has expired. I hope to maybe come back and ask a couple more questions, but at this time, I recognize the gentlewoman from North Carolina.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There is really twodid I understand you said that in the agriculture budgetwhat is in the agriculture budget for TEFAP? Was there an increase?
Mr. BRALEY. Right, the agriculture budget for 2002, I don't think has come out at that level of detail as yet, Mrs. Clayton.
Mrs. CLAYTON. We just passed the budget in the House.
Mr. BRALEY. Oh, OK. I am thinking ahead to 2003. I believe it is at the same level as it was in 2001, which is $45 million per administration and $100 million for commodity purchases.
Mrs. CLAYTON. And I appreciate you now being able to say what the needs would be, but what would be your estimates if you had the opportunity to say what the administrative needs would be. What would that cost be?
Mr. BRALEY. I am not in a position to estimate that. I think the other folks on the panel would probably be closer to the situation than I am and could hazard a guess.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes, I would assume. Mr. O'Brien, let me ask you, the Second Harvest. We are currently at $45 million. What do you think the reasonable need would be? We all acknowledge we need more. What would that be?
Mr. O'BRIEN. What we are suggesting in reauthorization is, it relates to surplus commodities, which are the ones that move as an activity to help farmers take product off the market and then give them to hungry Americans. We would suggest that, actually, tying a variable rate, the same as CCC accounts, the section 32 accounts, to pay for the distribution cost of moving the product. That way you prevent either too low of an administrative grant, as we have in the mandatory purchase side, or overly generous amount of funding. For example, they purchased $2.5 million ofI am sorry$3 million worth of canned tuna as part of their section 32 authority. We would ask that there would be some additional money then to move the tuna to agencies all across America. That way you prevent under-funding or over-funding. It would be tied by some formula that we would defer to USDA on.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. And that is the $200 million extra money that we appropriated to buy the surplus food. Is that what you are talking about?
Mr. O'BRIEN. That is actually separate.
Mrs. CLAYTON. That is separate. I am misunderstanding you. I am sorry.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Well, there is actually twolast year was a funny year for us, because Congress passed that additional money, the direct, and USDA is going to send some of it our way. In addition to their normal section 32 activities, there was an enormous amount of surplus commodities.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. The reason, well, I want to establish what the base should be at a minimum to increase it to meet all of the administrative needs that I know, other than North Carolina, so I know if Mr. Gay is talking about when he says there is no storage space because he announced that the food is coming, but if Warren County doesn't have the storage space where I live, you don't get certain produce. And if you don't have a freezer, you don't get certain meats. Potatoes were plentiful 2 weeks ago. People could move them real quickly. They didn't have transportation, you know. They, indeed, went to waste. So there are many counties that do not have those in our area. So that would take care of the storage space as well as administrative costs, what you just gave to me, Mr. O'Brien? You are going to have to take up the slack for Mr. Bradley, because he can't talk on the record.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. O'BRIEN. OK. I understand. I would hope so. Again, it is not so much a matter of storage space. Storage space is part of it, but it is also being able to move it from one site to another. Mr. Gay, actually, has been very progressive in his State. There was salmon surpluses from the Pacific Northwest. And when there was not a lot of surplus commodities in North Carolina eating up so much of the administrative dollars, Mr. Gay made use the TEFAP administrative money, which was part of the 1996 reform that, you know, you all enabled to have happen. He used some of the TEFAP administrative money to offset the cost of bringing in the salmon into the State that otherwise wouldn't have been available. Right now, as Mr. Horne mentioned, there is an enormous amount of potatoes from Idaho that a number of States would take to help feed hungry Americans, but there just isn't any way the States can capture the money to move it. So it is more than just storage. It is actually the cost of getting it from one place to another.
Mrs. CLAYTON. OK. I received communications in my office. They knew we were going to have this meeting, and one of my farmers told me, and this is from my district. They said, you know, we need your help. Sweet potatoes are not on that list, that list that you just read, Mr. Braley, and sweet potato farmers are having trouble. And they said our growers would like to see more sweet potatoes purchased by USDA in all of its feeding programs, not just the additional $200 million, they said, you know, we are afraid that as we are in trouble, that we wait until all the monies are spent. Now, sweet potatoes, is it on the mandatory list or just the $200 million list? Well, let me just raise it that my farmers want you to include them. I see my time is out. I don't want to abuse it. I will come back.
Mr. BRALEY. No. Let me comment. It is a long list. I am looking for it here and I will ask the staff to help me find the sweet potatoes if they are there. We have purchased sweet potatoes in the past, and certainly, if the sweet potato growers have a surplus situation, they normally would come into our agricultural marketing service and let them know, and then we help find a home for the products that are found to be in surplus and the markets are depressed.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mrs. CLAYTON. Can I submit this letter to you?
Mr. BRALEY. I would be happy to help you with that.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I appreciate that. Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you very much. Mr. Grasty, I wonder if you could focus a little bit on what we are talking about here in terms of Federal support. What kind of assistance does your food bank get right now from the Federal Government?
Mr. GRASTY. The only program I know of beyond TEFAP, we do have VISTA volunteers, Corporation National Service. I am sure you are familiar with that.
Mr. GOODLATTE. What do you get from the TEFAP, though?
Mr. GRASTY. What do we get?
Mr. GOODLATTE. Do you get any money?
Mr. GRASTY. Yes, we do. I want to call on Rod Plowman, who handles TEFAP, pretty much, allocation for the State. He can give you percentages and figures. Right, Rod?
Mr. PLOWMAN. Yes. Virginia is still in the process of the current fiscal year betweenVirginia is going to run out of TEFAP administrative money on June the 15. Anything that comes in between June 15 and October 1, will be coming in without administrative money. Our food bank is scheduled to receive 26 truckloads of food. I did some rough calculations here just a minute ago. It is going to come up to about a shortfall of about $145,000, we are going to be suffering from the lack of administration.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Does it cost about $5,000 per truckload to deliver the food?
Mr. PLOWMAN. Well, I have 26 truckloads times 40,000. I forget the number. I just rounded it off at 40,000 pounds. I guess I am not too far off. And then that figure times 14 cents a pound is about $140-some thousand. So that would be our shortfall on the remaining parts of this year.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Now, how is thatyou pay 14 cents a pound or those
Mr. PLOWMAN. In Virginia, the Commonwealth of Virginia, we send an invoice into the Commonwealth of Virginia, stating we received X number of pounds of sweet peas. And then they will send us a check for that amount of money to cover our costs. I guess I am not coming across very well.
Mr. GOODLATTE. No. I still don't quite compute
Mr. GRASTY. The 14 cents is an arbitrary figure that we arrived at. It is not our actual cost. The cost is more than that to ship it, and store it, and handle it, and all that, but the 14 cents is a figure we agreed upon some years ago with the Virginia Department of Agriculture to be what it would take to cover the cost of handling all that.
Mr. GOODLATTE. So you pay that amount to them?
Mr. GRASTY. They pay that amount to us.
Mr. GOODLATTE. OK. And then what do you do with that money?
Mr. GRASTY. It goes into the expense budget for whatever, you know, but we figure that the cost of handling it is around
Mr. GOODLATTE. Do you then contract with the haulers to haul that food? Who pays for the truck that brings that food to your food bank?
Mr. GRASTY. The food is delivered to us. We ship it to our other branches and then to our agencies.
Mr. GOODLATTE. A truck brings that food to you. Is that correct?
Mr. GRASTY. Right.
Mr. GOODLATTE. Who pays for that?
Mr. GRASTY. USDA ships it. It is shipped into our door.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. OK. So in other words, the $100 million that TEFAP provides, some of that goes to pay for trucking costs. Is that correct? Doug, do you want to jump in there?
Mr. GRASTY. I am not sure how that happens, Doug.
Mr. O'BRIEN. What happens is, the grant is given to each of the States based on a formula, based on poverty, population, and unemployment. That grant then is what they are give for that year, and they need toin the case of Gary's State, in North Carolina, which he can talk to better than I can probably, but what happens is the State has warehouses, and they then portion out those commodities to the various food banks. They then reimburse the food banks for their costs.
You are familiar at food banks, as you know, you have a food bank at Roanoke that then services agencies in many, many counties around the State. And the reimbursement that comes to help offset the costs of the food bank in moving that product out, those costs are, you know, it is like gas, it is paying staff. It is keeping, you know, products refrigerated or otherwise. Why it is critical and why some States seem to do it better than others, is that for many, many years, TEFAP did not get a lot of fresh product. And the biggest reason for that was most small agencies didn't have refrigerated or freezer space. Church pantries, historically, don't. And with the change in 1996, TEFAP administrative money was then used to either rent freezer or refrigerator space for church pantries and soup kitchens that didn't have it, or the food bank could do it for them. The problem is that if administration money isn't used in that wayagain, it pays for making sure you have the warehouse space available to make moving it from point A to point B. If you don't have the money available to rent freezer and refrigerated space, people refuse the product.
Mr. GOODLATTE. OK. Now, let me get clear in my mind what we are talking about here. We have $45 million. Is that separate and apart from the $100 million for
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes, sir, it is.
Mr. GOODLATTE. OK. So you would like to see an increase in both is what you are asking for?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes. The reason is that right now we are in a crisis with the administrative funding as our friends from Verona have mentioned, what happens is after June 15
Mr. GOODLATTE. You haven't had any significant increase in administrative funds, but you are getting extra food to distribute and you don't have the ability to pay for that. We are going to give you even more food if we increase the other side of it, and you are going to have to have something to help move that food.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Right.
Mr. GOODLATTE. OK.
Mr. GRASTY. I would like to say that the member agencies, the churches that we are talking about, they receive the food from the food banks at no operating expense, no fee whatsoever. So we rely on the money that comes from USDA to handle that product. And the 14 cents covers the rent, the staff salaries, refrigeration, our trucks.
Mr. GOODLATTE. I have got you. I don't have a problem with that. I just wanted to make sure people understood and I understood that the association between the money you have to spendand I like Mr. Gay's proposal that we change it to distribution and storage rather than administrative costs, because I don't think it is a clear explanation of what the money is used for.
Mr. Horne, tell us how gleaning fits into all this process. Do you distribute all of your gleaned products to food banks or do you have other networks that distribute them as well?
Mr. HORNE. We distribute most of our gleaned products to food banks. When you do field gleaning, as in this network we are trying to establish that when it is fully grown you are talking about 6070,000 volunteers all over the country. When you do gleaning, you are talking about a group of volunteers going out into the field and picking something. You wind up with a smaller quantity than a tractor trailer truck is going to haul. So quite frequently, you will distribute that, package it up right in the field, and distribute it to the agencies that go to the food banks for food, but you go straight to the agency itself, not to circumvent the food bank, particularly. It just doesn't make a great deal of sense to run it through a warehouse when you can get it right off the back of the truck and it is fresh and it wants to be eaten right now, so let's cut to the chase here.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. So what do you need additional funds for?
Mr. HORNE. Well, what I am trying to do in the establishment of this gleaning network, we need the seed money, essentially, to help us establish this network. We have got church money to pay for the staffing of this program, but we put a staff person in a State, and in order to help them establish to grow a bank of volunteers to generate funding resources that can fund them out into the future, and to train volunteers how to bag up or box up produce and get it distributed, what we like to do is do in every State four to five what we call potato drops during the year. In other words, you get a tractor trailer truck full of sweet potatoes, and you bring it to a church parking or someplace, and you dump it out either bagged in 100-pound sacks, or bulk, whatever. Your staff person, now, their job is to go to 10 to 15 churches and get them to send 10 or 15 volunteers each. And when they show up, their job is to take this 40,000-pound pile of potatoes and to bag it up into 10-pound bags, which we supply. At that point, then that food, most of it, is given to the local food banks. Some of it is distributed directly into smaller agencies.
When you get done with this, when you do this four or five times in a State, you wind up with somewhere between 600 and 1,000 volunteers who have now done everything there is to do in gleaning except actually go out in the field and pick something. They have picked it up off a parking lot. You wind up with 80 to 100 churches that are involved in this effort, who can then supply you more volunteers. They serve as a funding base. When you go to these 80 to 100 churches next year and ask them to take up a collection for $300, most of them will do that, and that is how you pay for this effort ongoing. In addition to which, you have just distributed 40,000 pounds of food. It is strictly for the supplying of those potato drops that we are asking financial help from the Government. We have got all the staffing and all that sort of stuff covered, but we are going to need to do 100 of these a year for the next 4 years or so, and we haven't got the money. So that is what we are asking for, transportation and packaging costs. OK?
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Very good. Thank you. Ms. Robbins, does your program help get the participants in it to become self-sufficient? Do you have any, either examples, or statistics you can share with us about how you help close the gap and make people more self-sufficient with your program?
Ms. ROBBINS. Yes, Mr. Chairman. One particular moving example is that we had a person who was very obese and had diabetes and was unable to work. He was disabled, and he was a recipient of Farm Share food. And he wanted to help. He was not able to buy fresh vegetables because of his income, and his disability did not allow him to work, and the cost of his medication did not allow him to have sufficient money to buy fresh produce, and the doctor had made a recommendation that he add this to his diet. His name was Jorge. He came and worked every day at the Farm Share Packing House. Physically, he was not able to lift big bags of fresh product, but he was able to count. And while we do a daily food distribution to individuals and a twice weekly food distribution to 450 agencies, Jorge was able to sit and count the boxes that were going into these vehicles, and we have accountability with our fresh produce as well as the TEFAP products. And so he was able to help, and he assisted, and every day Jorge took home a bag of fresh vegetables.
And in Florida, with our growing season, we have green beans, squash, zucchini, eggplant, corn, tomatoes, for many of the months in the year, and then we have the fresh fruits during the summer. So he lost approximately 65 pounds. He was able to again have a normal life. His diabetes came under control. And he still was a volunteer at the Farm Share Food Recovery Program. This is one example of how getting fresh produce to the individuals assists them to change their life and to turn their life around and be able to be more productive citizens. But one of the greatest things that we feel that our program does is recovering food in bulk, and then packaging it, and then distributing it to agencies. We feel that is the most economical thing that we can do, and added to the TEFAP, beans, rice, and meat, that the families that receive this product really have an extra special gift of food whenever it is received by families.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. Thank you very much. Those are all the questions I have. Does that prompt anymore on your part?
Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes. Again, trying to understand the relationship between food stamps and TEFAP, one of the questions the chairman just asked about self-sufficiency, it was an excellent idea in terms of sufficiency of understanding the value of food. Is there a component of any of your programs that could utilize the education and trainingnot the dollars, but just say the function. We were thinking about those monies have been underutilized. And those monies were really put there to put people in a sufficiency mode, to employ them, to educate them, and to train them. And I agree with the chairman, they have been underutilized.
My reservations about how we go to this program is not to remove that sufficiency opportunity, but are there opportunities, are you now doing things through your programs, that adds to the self-sufficiency of individuals in terms of employment and training? I know the shelter program, because I am active here, occasionally, with the DC shelter, and know the kitchen there trains people in culinary and they go off to work. Not just to give them the food, but it is also to train them, to make them sufficient. Do you all have examples of any of those?
Ms. ROBBINS. Yes, ma'am.
Mrs. CLAYTON. I saw his hand first.
Mr. GRASTY. If I could have a turn, I will go second. Thank you.
Ms. ROBBINS. At the Farm Share Program, we use the VISTA volunteers to teach Hunger 101, and through this program, we teach basic nutrition education, and how to cook their meals, and how to take care of themselves. We found that if you can get the food to these people and get them educated in how to use that food, then they are more interestedbecause they are not hungry, they are more interested in going out and finding employment. And so we feel that is a tool to help people become more self-sufficient. Actually, we are not training them in cooking. We are training them in how to take care of themselves and how to become more self-sufficient in their daily lives, which then enables them to go on and become productive citizens.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HORNE. The short answer to your question is, as it touches our program, we have no in-built organic program to do the things you are talking about. But one of the main reasons that we want to establish this network of gleaning programs is because it will involve such a great number of congregations around the country and such a great number of volunteers. And what we have found in the States where we do gleaning is that when people get involved in that and begin to distribute food, generally, to agencies, but sometimes, directly to families, you find that those churches then in the times when they are not gleaning, begin to look for other things to do.
I mean, you wind up involvingwe have 20,000 volunteers now, and they are involved, most of them for the first time in their life with poor people. And it creates a considerable resource to do the kind of training you are talking about, do the kind of things that in my humble opinion could alleviate better than half our problem if some of the people in our country who are making it would befriend some of the people in our country who are not making it.
Mr. GRASTY. Right.
Mr. HORNE. And we need to create a vehicle to make that happen, and that is the underlying intention of what we are after. But do I have a set program in place right now? No, I do not. Will I encourage it in the future? Absolutely.
Mrs. CLAYTON. We have gleaned together, so we know the value of gleaning, so we willyes?
Mr. O'BRIEN. I would be remissI am sure I would have to answer when I get back to Chicago, but we actually operate three separate ones that do. One is a communications initiative nationwide in 40 sites, including the DC Central Kitchen, in which current welfare recipients are trained in the culinary arts, and then they graduate, and then they are helped placed in the food service industry here in DC, and in Chicago, and other places. Also, some of our food banks are now experimenting with the idea ofbecause warehousing and distribution, driving trucks, et cetera, is such fundamental to what we do, they are operating their own kind of pilots and training welfare recipients on heavy machinery use, like pallet cranesthey are not cranes, but pallet jacks, and trucks.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Then lastly, to touch on what Ken said, another program we have is called Kids' Cafe, in which we invite low income children in after school settings, which the food is the draw, but it is really meant to be a safe haven for low income kids, and they are then tutored or given, you know, some sort of play time with adults that become mentors for them in a lot of ways. So we have those three programs all aimed at the same direction.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes, sir?
Mr. GRASTY. I want to mention many food banks have a program called Souper Pantry, which is a life skills training program whereby we take the low income recipients and teach them about nutrition, similar to what Ms. Robbins had to say, about nutrition, their legal rights. We also, at that point, give them information on Government benefits, what they can apply for, food stamps being among those. And the food banks are also becoming conduits for information as far as what is available.
I know Roanoke has a very strong agency relations program where they promote making this awareness take place. So food banks are working in that area quite a lot.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Yes?
Mr. BRALEY. To build on a point that Doug made, we have worked with the DC Central Kitchen and the American School Food Service Association to put together two groups that we work with quite extensively to take the idea of developing people to work in the culinary arts and applying that to school food service as well, because there is a shortage of school food service professionals in many parts of the country. We have funded a pilot project in Washington and hope that we can do more of that around the country as well.
Mrs. CLAYTON. Well, the education and training component of the food stamps is designed to do just that, so I hope you would encourage States throughout that those funds can be used for that. We want to feed people, but we want to teach people how to fish as well. And part of it is to move people, you know, in terms of those activities. Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GOODLATTE. I would like to thank all of you for participating. This has been a very productive hearing, and I think we have advanced our cause a little further than the last time. And this Congress, I must tell you, I intend to see it through, though, to completion. And we look forward to working with the administration to accomplish that goal of improving the TEFAP and improving the ability of food banks and organizations like Mr. Horne's to get the abundance that we have in this country to those people who truly need it.
At this time, 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 2:48 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
[Material submitted for inclusion in the record follows:]
Statement of Hon. Tony P. Hall
Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Clayton and other members of the committee, I applaud your efforts today to review the USDA domestic food distribution programs. I also thank you for the opportunity to address the issue of hunger, which threatens 31 million fellow Americans. As most of you are aware, I have spent most of my congressional career searching for solutions to end hunger in America and across the globe.
OVERVIEW OF HUNGER
In the past few years, I have seen a dramatic increase of individuals accessing food pantries and soup kitchens. Just a few months ago, the U.S. Conference of Mayors Annual Report on Hunger and Homelessness reported a 17 percent increase in requests for emergency food. Last October, I stood at a food pantry in McArthur in Appalachian Ohio and watched more than 300 people old and young stand and wait for food. The households they represented are 10 percent of the entire county. For some it was the only food they would receive all month.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC America's Second Harvest has shown that 1 in 10 families turn to emergency food assistance programs at some point in the year. As a result of this increase, we have found our emergency food providers in difficult financial situations. The need for more food is present, but the need for funding to move that food is much more prevalent. I feel we have the means to support these agencies and call upon this committee to examine my recommendations.
THE EMERGENCY FOOD ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
TEFAP, the Emergency Food Assistance Program, provides federally donated food commodities and cash grants for distribution to needy persons served by public and private nonprofit emergency food assistance providers. In its early years, TEFAP was designed to assist the Government with removal of stock piled commodities. Once the surplus depleted, Congress recognized there was still a need to feed hungry families. The primary work to create and preserve TEFAP was done in this committee, under the leadership of the late Bill Emerson.
Today the TEFAP is authorized through fiscal year 2002 and aid is disbursed through three specific avenues: (1) food commodities bought specifically for the program, (2) grants for hunger relief agencies to distribute, store and transport product, and (3) when available, ''bonus'' commodities from inventories collected through the market clearance mechanisms of USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC).
More than a nutrition or welfare program, TEFAP is also an agricultural program. TEFAP commodities are a result of market-loss buyouts for farmers. In fact, USDA's Economic Research Service has shown that up to 84 percent of TEFAP purchases benefit farmers, producers and processors. TEFAP allows commodities to be used to feed the hungry rather than sit in a field and rot or be thrown away. Additionally, TEFAP is the single food assistance program to catch individuals that are not eligible for other nutrition programs or are in a temporary period of disparity. TEFAP is a win-win program for all involvedthose who produce the food and those who consume it, but are too poor to buy it. However there are problems in administering the program.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I want to speak especially about the distribution grants and bonus commodities. The TEFAP currently receives appropriations of $145 million. $100 million is mandatory funding from the Food Stamp Program, allocated for purchasing commodities. The distribution grants are authorized for funding up to $50 million, but appropriated at $45 million.
A formula, the Fair Share Percentage, establishes the percentage of food commodities and distribution grants a State receives.
Currently, the expenses for storage, distribution and transportation on commodities are not being met. The Federal grant a State is awarded is only used to distribute the entitled product, which USDA purchases. Any bonus commodity a State receives is at the expense of the State and contracted sub-distributors. In the past years, this burden has been minimal and States were able to stretch their dollars to cover the bonus commodities. However in the last year, bonus commodities have been double and almost triple the entitled amount.
In States like Virginia, Missouri and Ohio, the USDA has contracted with foodbanks to distribute TEFAP. Each foodbank is awarded their fair share percentage of the entitled product and distribution grants.
The product is shipped directly from USDA to the foodbank. With an influx of bonus commodity, which carries no distribution money, the foodbanks are eating the cost of storage, distribution and transportation .
Virginia has estimated an increased and therefore unmet need of $375,000 in administrative money to support TEFAP distribution for all food offerings. Missouri experienced a decrease in fair share percentage this year and is struggling more than ever to distribute the same amount and more product than previous years. The Shared Harvest Foodbank in Fairfield, OH, in Vice Chairman Boehner's district, has ordered 76 tractor-trailer loads of entitlement product to date. In addition, they have also received 194 tractor-trailer loads of bonus commodity. In past years the reimbursement for TEFAP entitlement product averaged about 11 cents a pound. This year the reimbursement is less than 4 cents a pound, which includes stretching the money to cover bonus commodities.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In addition, there are other States which have leases with commercial warehouses and trucking companies to distribute product. The cost of these warehouses and trucks is based on poundage. In past years, foodbanks and others have stretched their funds to cover bonus commodities, but the tripling of bonus product has made this impossible.
Let it also be noted that USDA is expecting another 200 million pounds of bonus commodity to become available before the end of the year. One of my recommendations is for increased funding to assist these local agencies. The entire $45 million is passed on to the States, not one penny remains with the Federal Government. On the State level, the average percentage retained for administration is less than 8 percent. Therefore, at least 92 percent of all the money goes directly to local agencies to assist in distribution.
States do have discretion to not accept bonus product, but the need to feed the hungry is increasing and the product is healthy, safe, and shelf - stable. Any agency that has accepted the call to serve, wants bonus product to feed their neighbors, but we cannot expect the good will of these individuals to solely provide the necessary means. I was asked by the TEFAP administrator in my home State of Ohio, ''Would you expect a commercial facility to accept, store, transport and deliver 13 million pounds of commodities at no cost?'' and I turn that question to this committee. A foodbank can only hold so many charity golf tournaments to pay for this ''free'' food. It is our responsibility to provide the resources we can, and this involves increasing TEFAP to the authorized $50 million.
As well as an increase in funding, there is also a need to increase food.
I look forward to joining you again, Chairman Goodlatte, in sponsoring your bill to increase the overall funding for TEFAP . Given the shortfall, States have found creative ways of meeting these needs. I am proud that the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks has implemented an Agricultural Surplus Production Alliance.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Association receives funding through the state budget to purchase crops from Ohio farmers, which can not be sold on the market, and distributes these products through the foodbanks. The Production Alliance provides healthy produce to families accessing food pantries and soup kitchens. This public/private partnership has been beneficial for all involved.
I am pleased that my good friend Ken Home of the Society of St. Andrew is here today. Society of St. Andrew is a faith-based nonprofit organization committed to salvaging excess food that would otherwise be wasted, and creating a nation-wide network of gleaning programs that will effectively tackle the issues of both hunger and waste across the Nation. They have been in the business of salvaging ordinarily wasted produce and distributing the product to the poor for over 17 years.
Society of St. Andrew has forged partnerships with America's Second Harvest and other relief agencies to distribute 300 million pounds of food. Society of St. Andrew's latest goal is to establish food recovery programs in every State over the next 6 to 8 years. To start this project, Society of St. Andrew is asking for Federal assistance in the development of another public/private partnership. The funding will be used solely for the packaging and transporting of the food. They, in partnership with the United Methodist Church, will provide all of the additional funding. Because the Society is dedicated to keeping their overhead low and their operation simple, they are able to salvage and deliver produce at a total cost of less than 5 cents per pound.
I fully support their proposed plan and believe that the Society of St. Andrew will do a wonderful job in this partnership, as they have proven through their TEFAP contract with the State of North Carolina. We spend $1 million a day to dispose of wasted, but edible food. For the same price, we can support an organization, which in 6 years could recover a third of all wasted food.
CSFP AND FDPIR
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to bring to your attention two additional Federal, domestic food distribution programs. The first is the Commodity Supplemental Food Programs (CSFP). CSFP is another Food and Nutrition Service program that provides nutritious foods each month to low-income seniors and pregnant and post-partum women, infants, and children not eligible for WIC. The participants receive commodities that are tailored to meet their unique nutritional needs as well as nutrition education and other needed services. 78 percent of CSFP participants are senior citizens.
The program is excellent, but only 23 States are enrolled due to lack of funding. For example, Ohio applied for 10 years and just last year was accepted, but was allotted only 2,000 slots. I would encourage the committee to review the program and support $110 million in funding to maintain the current caseloads and expand to five additional states. CSFP is a program which directly affects our seniors that have sadly been left out of other programs.
The second is the Food Distribution on Indian Reservations Program (FDPIR). FDPIR was created to serve Native Americans on reservations due to the lack of grocery stores. This program provides commodities for distribution on reservations. I once visited a Sioux reservation in North Dakota with the Select Committee on Hunger and remember being appalled at the contents of some of the cans. Thankfully, USDA has greatly improved the nutritional content of these commodities.
I am pleased to report that FDPIR now has a fresh produce initiative, thanks to a former Mickey Leland-Bill Emerson Hunger Fellow. Heidi Hattenbach worked with the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and then came to USDA. She had witnessed the lack of fresh produce on reservations and was able to set up a new produce distribution program. She did so without any new money by contracting with the Defense Department and their procurement agency.
The program is so successful that it won a Silver Hammer award for Government innovation.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Once again thank you for your review of these programs. Thank you for allowing me to testify on behalf of programs that are truly meeting the needs of the poor. Please consider my recommendations in your decisions. Remember that we cannot end hunger alone. It takes the work of all of usGovernment, the private sector and non-profit organizations. As public servants, it is our responsibility to care for the weakest of our neighbors, the ones that work hard and still struggle to feed their families.
Statement of George Braley
Mr. Chairman, I am George Braley, Acting Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). It is my pleasure to appear before the subcommittee this afternoon as you review the Department's commodity nutrition assistance programs and consider how these vital programs can be enhanced.
The Department of Agriculture is very proud of its commodity programs and the role they play in supplementing and supporting our other nutrition assistance programs. Of course the commodity programs are equally important to American farms and ranches because they provide the Department with a means to stabilize agricultural markets.
Currently, FNS provides nutritious commodities to meal service operations such as the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and Nutrition Programs for the Elderly. Commodity support for these programs is currently 1.1 billion pounds of food. We also provide low-income persons with commodities for consumption at home through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), and in cases of natural disasters.
Mr. Chairman, I understand that this subcommittee may soon consider legislation to increase funds for food distribution through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), by reallocating up to $40 million in unspent Food Stamp Program Employment and Training Funds (E&T) each year. The reallocation would allow additional TEFAP commodities to be purchased and distributed above and beyond the dollar amount currently specified in section 27 of the Food Stamp Act. This reallocation would increase TEFAP outlays up to $40 million per year.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The Department is proud of the food assistance TEFAP has provided over the last 20 years and appreciates the continued support of this subcommittee. As you know, the popular TEFAP program got its start during the Administration of former President Ronald Reagan as a common sense approach to tap bulging Government warehouses full of cheese and other dairy products and make these surplus commodities available to America's needy. Since its inception, TEFAP has played a key role in supplementing our other food assistance programs by providing commodities for soup kitchens, food banks, and food pantries. In addition, since these emergency food organizations typically distribute large quantities of foods donated by the private sector as well as by USDA, TEFAP administrative funds provide scarce cash needed by these programs for an effort that is far larger than just USDA contributions.
As we review the needs of TEFAP this afternoon, it is important to reflect on how the program has evolved over time. States no longer have ''mass distribution'' systems; instead, they rely heavily on food banks, soup kitchens, and food pantries to reach people who are in need of food.
Congress has provided a more stable funding base for buying commodities under TEFAP, with a level of about $100 million available for ''direct purchase'' commodities, and, for the last several years, substantial bonus commodities as well. The most recent infusion of bonus commodities is a consequence of the Agriculture Risk Protection Act of 2000, P.L. 106224, which provided the Department with an additional $200 million to assist depressed farm markets and to donate to our domestic food programs, including TEFAP.
Mr. Chairman, the Department appreciates the intent of your proposed bill and we pledge to work with you to explore ways to help our partners, such as America's Second Harvest and the Society of St. Andrew, reach needy Americans in need of food assistance. At the same time that we consider the best ways to meet the needs of TEFAP, we also want to make sure we can do so without adversely impacting States' ability to provide employment and training opportunities to able-bodied adults without dependents (ABAWDs). ABAWDs are subject to a three-month food stamp participation limit and comprise an especially vulnerable and hard-to-serve population and are rarely eligible for other benefits. Presently, the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized by Congress to reallocate unspent E&T funds appropriately and equitably among the States to ensure adequate ABAWD funding in future years. Mr. Chairman, like you, the administration remains committed to working with the States to ensure that all Americans able to reach independence and enter the workforce be given the support and encouragement to do so. We need to be careful that we do not hinder States' options and opportunities to provide employment and training services for those unemployed individuals.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC USDA would be pleased to work with you and the subcommittee to ensure that available resources are targeted wisely in support of our Nation's nutrition assistance programs. All the Food and Nutrition Service programs are important to the people they serve, and our nutrition programs are the cornerstones 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 afternoon 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 the opportunity to testify today about the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). 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 (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 TEFAP and the other programs that are part of the USDA's commodity distribution system. This subcommittee has a long history of supporting these programs, and you are continuing the tradition of past chairmen, such as Congressmen Bill Emerson and Charlie Stenholm. I would also like to thank Representative Eva Clayton for her long-standing support for these programs.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you know, the level of TEFAP commodity purchases has varied significantly over the last decade. For example, in recent years the overall TEFAP budget, which includes storage and distribution funding, has ranged from a low of $65 million to a high of $172 million. As part of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, Congress amended TEFAP's authorizing statute to provide $100 million annually in mandatory commodity purchases. This step was intended to ensure a constant and predictable flow of commodities and eliminate the 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 volume of bonus commodities, however, fluctuates from year to year depending on agricultural market conditions, and these products, although important, are not predictable.
TEFAP's authorization expires at the end of Fiscal Year 2002 (i.e. September 30, 2002). In addition to proposals to increase TEFAP commodity purchases, there are several issues ACDA would like to recommend for the subcommittee's consideration during the reauthorization process.
Storage and Distribution FundingThe TEFAP statute authorizes up to $50 million annually to pay for ''administrative costs''. ACDA recommends that this account be renamed ''storage and distribution costs'' to more accurately reflect how this money is used. 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. Regrettably, the term ''administrative costs'' 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.
TEFAP is also in desperate need of additional storage and distribution funds. For the current fiscal year $45 million has been appropriated, but this is far short of what is necessary. 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. This has forced some States to refuse commodities. ACDA believes that it would be appropriate to somehow link the amount of storage and distribution funds to the amount of bonus commodities that are available. We believe this would be preferable to simply authorizing a higher level and a more prudent approach to providing funding.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Funding Carry-Overthe 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. This is necessary to 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.
Leveraging Off USDA's Purchasing PowerUSDA should be authorized, but not required, to act as the purchasing agent for States that supplement their TEFAP programs. A number of States fund additional TEFAP commodity purchases. If USDA could act as the purchasing agent for these States, it would give them the option of benefiting from the Department's enormous buying power, and, hopefully, receive more products for their limited dollars. A similar service has been authorized since 1994 as part of the National School Lunch Program.
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, 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.
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC 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 Kenneth C. Horne, Jr.
Thank you very much for allowing me to be with you today. We at the Society of St. Andrew consider the work you are doing with the TEFAP program to be extremely important to the continued well being of our Nation's poor and we are glad to add whatever expertise we can to the search for solutions to the obscenity of poverty in the midst of plenty.
As you know, the Society of St. Andrew salvages normally discarded produce and delivers these vegetables to agencies that serve the poor nationwide. Last year we were able to deliver over thirty million pounds of produce to our Nation's poor. We are proud of this record while at the same time recognizing 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 point of what I have to say is simple. There is much more produce that can be salvaged. Produce salvage is cheap. The Society of St. Andrew's cost runs about 5 cents per delivered pound. The TEFAP program can be utilized to dramatically increase the amount of salvaged produce made available to our nation's poor people each year. I offer three examples; there are many others.
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Since produce can be donated, salvaged, and delivered to agencies that serve the poor for a total cost of only 5 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, $2 1/2 million annually, would issue in deliveries of 50 million pounds of produce nationwide. 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 the Society of St. Andrew. Generally as a result of a market glut a large amount of produce (commonly in excess of 10 million pounds) must be either donated or discarded in a short amount of time (generally 6 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. If TEFAP could create a revolving fund of 1 to $2 million 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, consistent with TEFAP goals, 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.
In our area of expertise, produce salvage, we have embarked on a plan to establish the first truly nationwide network of Gleaners. When this network is complete it will supply over thirty million pounds of produce each year for our Nation's poor. Additionally it 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.
Page 64 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In closing let me summarize my remarks. We waste over ninety billion pounds of food per year in the United States. Much of this waste is fresh 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 are 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. Thank you.
Statement of Phil Grasty
Chairman Goodlate and distinguished members of the subcommittee:
It is a privilege to be here and tell you about the importance of TEFAP commodities in the State of Virginia. I work for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank in the Shenandoah Valley and have a close association with the Federation of Virginia Second Harvest Food Banks. This organization includes all seven America's Second Harvest Food Banks in the State.
Each of you probably knows at least something abut America's Second Harvest Food Bank. If the church you attend operated a food pantry, it's a good chance that a major portion of the food they distribute to the needy comes from an America's Second Harvest Food Bank. In Virginia alone we supply food to more than 3,000 churches and non-profits groups. We distribute virtually the entire TEFAP product distributed in Virginia.
We are seeing a trend in Virginia that is of great concern to Food Banks. While we are pleased that the allotment of TEFAP increased in the State by 25 percent from fiscal year 19992000 to 200001, the Federation of Food Banks are concerned about the smaller percentage of administrative money provided to Food Banks for the program distribution.
The need is greater. While welfare reform has been very successful, the program has created a whole new category of persons served by food bank agencies. We refer to these people as the ''working poor''. They hold full time jobs but do not earn enough to fully take care of their families.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC TEFAP commodities are very nutritious staple foods. Food banks have a very difficult time obtaining donated product from the food industry with the same consistent quality and nutrition. Nutrition is even more important that quantity.
Food banks get the job done at a fraction of the costs incurred by
government agencies. As the renowned business expert Peter Druker said, ''Taxpayers should be given $1.10 tax credit for every $1 they donate to well managed non-profit.'' The most efficient way to get food into the hands of people that need it is through the food bank system. It is also the most cost effective.
Public/Private/Non-profit partnerships have been discussed a lot in recent years. The distribution of TEFAP foods through food banks is an outstanding example of this vital concept.
Reductions in TEFAP have a serious negative financial impact on food banks. Donations and minimal fees from agencies cover operating expenses. In the case of TEFAP this is covered by administrative funds. While TEFAP commodities for distribution increases 25% over the past two years, the administrative money has increased only 7%, which meant that approximately two million pounds of food were distributed by food banks in the past year with no administrative reimbursement. The reimbursement amount was short $234.00 in 19992000 and shorts $428,000 in the 200001 fiscal year.
The bottom line is that TEFAP commodities are very important to food banks and the agencies they serve, but most importantly TEFAP is crucial to needy persons throughout this country.
The continued distribution of TEFAP food is crucial to whatever success food banks have in meeting the need. In order to adequately meet this need a sizable increase in the amount of administrative fees is surely needed by food banks to distribute the TEFAP program, so that these foods can be distributed without any charge to agencies on tight budget in our communities.
Page 66 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Two other issues that I would like to mention are for the Food Stamp Program. Provide an simpler application and for consideration that the Child or Adult Food Program policy of only snack reimbursement for evening meals increase from 52 cents for a snack to $2.02 for the value of the evening meals we are serving at nights in our Kids Cafe's.
Marty White, Executive Director and Rod Plowman, Special Projects Manager of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, contributed to this report.
Statement of the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association
United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association appreciates the opportunity to testify in strong support of both increased Federal support for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) domestic food distribution programs and need for modifications that will better enable these programs meet the federally recommended nutrition needs of the individuals that they serve. As the national trade organization representing producers, wholesalers, distributors, brokers and processors of fresh fruits and vegetables, United has worked aggressively for many years to enhance Federal programs and policies to address the staggering costs associated with poor diets and physical inactivity. While fresh produce is presently only provided in limited quantities within USDA's nutrition programs, appropriate actions should be taken to address this situation. Such actions will not only promote better health, but also help to limit chronic illnesses and diseases, which cost billions of dollars each year and cause premature deaths.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity are now the Nation's second leading actual cause of death and are primary factors in the skyrocketing rates of obesity and number of overweight individuals. Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are also major causes of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis. In fact, HHS estimates that unhealthy eating and inactivity contribute to between 310,000 and 580,000 deaths each year, 13 times more than gun-related deaths and 20 times higher than deaths due to illicit drug use. USDA also estimates that that healthier diets could prevent at least $71 billion per year in medical costs, lost productivity, and lost lives. It is important to note that this estimate only takes into account diet-related coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes and not other diet-related diseases.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Over a decade of research shows that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption reduces the risk of cancer and numerous other serious illnesses including heart disease, stroke, obesity and high blood pressure. For example, studies show that people who eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day have one-half the cancer risk of those who eat fewer than two servings. However, only one-in-four Americans consumes five or more servings of produce per day and children ages 6 to 12 are eating only 2 1/2 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, half of the minimum amount recommended by national guidelines.
Additionally, the 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published by USDA and HHS for the first time recognized consuming fruits and vegetables as a separate recommendation. ''Choose a variety of fruits and vegetables daily'' is one of the 10 key dietary recommendations that form the cornerstone of Federal nutrition policy in the U.S. and establish the science-based guidance on what Americans should eat to stay healthy. The Surgeon General's Report on Nutrition and Health and Healthy People 2010 National Health Objectives for the Nation also highlight the importance of promoting fruits and vegetables intake as a key public health goal. However, while we have the strongest public health guidan0ce on fruits and vegetables to date, actions have been limited to maximize the amount of fresh produce served to over 30 million individuals per day through USDA's food distribution programs.
We have already witnessed how Federal nutrition programs such as those within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) have effectively implemented a system to efficiently procure and distribute fresh produce to meet our Nation's military readiness needs. Additionally, we have seen how this program can be duplicated within USDA's Food Distribution on Indian Reservations Program (FDPIR). With such success stories, there is no reason that with some creativity and forethought that such efforts can't be duplicated within all USDA food distribution programs.
United and the produce industry appreciates the committee's interest in this critical issue. Thank you for holding this hearing today and we welcome the opportunity to work with the committee, USDA and other stakeholders such as food banks and food service providers to increase the amount of fresh produce commodities being provided to some of our Nation's most nutritionally at risk individuals. Additionally, we would be more than happy to provide the committee with further background information as needed to address this issue.
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