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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 14, 1999

          THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon and thank you for taking the

time to participate in this first ever summit on Community Food Security. Thank you, Secretary Glickman, for your leadership in this vital area.

Sometimes it's hard to comprehend that in the middle of the strongest peacetime economy in our nation's history, when poverty is at a 20-year low and incomes are rising all across America, there are still people in our country who go to bed hungry. More than 3 million children suffer from hunger at some point during the year. And nearly one in 10 American households are at serious risk that an expensive car repair or an unexpected rent increase could make them go hungry. That kind of deprivation is simply unacceptable in our land of plenty.

From the Earned Income Tax Credit to Medicaid to child care, our administration has carried out a new approach to help lift people out of poverty by forging a new social contract that rewards work, promotes responsibility and helps families who need it.

Last July, I took executive action to help families gain access to food stamps. Secretary Glickman is leading our efforts to launch a nationwide food stamp public education campaign. And all of you gathered here today are critically important to that effort. I ask each and every one of you to join with us in our partnership to ensure families get the help they need.

Our work is far from done. While the federal government continues to be deeply involved in the fight against hunger, our nutritional safety net alone can't conquer the problem.

The solution lies in new and innovative partnerships with grass roots efforts. For too long, government programs haven't done enough to capitalize on community expertise. And, likewise, community efforts have often not taken full advantage of the government resources available to them. This conference is about building stronger partnerships, about bringing all the parties to the table and forming stronger ties among the federal government; state, local and tribal governments; the private sector; nonprofit groups; the faith community; and private citizens. The more we work together, the better we can do in meeting the challenge of hunger.

Thank you again for your participation and for the hard work you do and the dedication you show every single day in the fight against hunger.