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Governors Emphasize Childhood Hunger

March 5, 2012

The nation’s governors examined the issue of childhood hunger during today’s Education, Early Childhood and Workforce Committee session at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting.

In 2010, the U.S. government estimated 10 percent of the country’s children, about 8.5 million, did not have enough to eat. The committee session, titled “Feeding America’s Children: Governors’ Efforts to Eliminate Childhood Hunger,” engaged governors in a conversation about effective state strategies to reduce childhood hunger. Governors heard from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack; Julie Gehrki, senior director at the Walmart Foundation; and Daniel Weekley, vice president–government affairs for Dominion Resources.

“Childhood hunger is a priority issue for the nation’s governors because it undermines a child’s wellness and ability to learn.” said Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe, chair of the committee. “Governors are working to solve this problem through the use of innovative policies and tools, including partnerships with businesses and nonprofit organizations. We are united in our commitment to ensuring that our nation’s children have enough to eat.”

“Governors remain concerned about several new federal mandates in the National School Lunch Program that would make it more difficult to ensure the state’s goal of feeding hungry children.” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, vice chair of the committee. “It is very helpful for governors to hear from Secretary Vilsack and experts from the private sector so that together we can move one step closer to solving the issue of childhood hunger.”

Vilsack shared his perspective on this issue and discussed opportunities for states and the federal government to partner to implement the new child nutrition law. Gehrki and Weekley discussed their partnerships with a number of governors to support initiatives aimed at addressing childhood hunger.

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