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                          SENIORS AND FAMILIES
                           November 22, 2000

Today, President Clinton will announce new initiatives to improve nutrition and food security among senior citizens and low-income working families, and strengthen community-based food delivery systems. The President will make these announcements while visiting the Capitol Area Food Bank in Washington, D.C. and participating in food distribution efforts for Thanksgiving Day with senior citizen and student volunteers. Helping parents feed their families and seniors get healthy food means strengthening the nutrition safety net and supporting community efforts to address hunger. To address these problems, the President will announce a new program to enable senior citizens to purchase fresh produce at farmers markets, new grants to support community efforts to address nutritional assistance, and an expanded federal purchase of produce to get food from the fields into the emergency food system. These actions will build on the Administration's record of promoting food security. Finally, the President will call on Congress to work with him in restoring benefits to certain legal immigrants as part of this year's budget.

In September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a new report indicating that close to nine out of ten American households, nearly 240 million Americans, had enough food for an active and healthy life in 1999. The number of households that did not get enough food and the number of households where one member was hungry have both declined significantly between 1995 and 1999 -- 12 and 24 percent respectively. However, despite the lowest poverty rate in 20 years, the success of welfare-to-work efforts, and new public/private anti-hunger initiatives, too many Americans still face hunger and food insecurity. In 1999, almost 8 million people lived in households that suffered directly from hunger the previous year. To help more Americans get the healthy food they need, the President will take the following steps in partnership with state, local and tribal organizations, private businesses, and faith-based and other nonprofit groups:

IMPROVING NUTRITION FOR AMERICA'S SENIORS. USDA will create a new $10 million grant program to help low-income senior citizens purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, helping more senior citizens improve their diets and helping family farmers increase their income. USDA, through its Commodity Credit Corporation, will provide funds to build on existing state and tribal farmers market voucher programs for senior citizens. Such an expansion will provide a modest benefit to as many as 500,000 low-income senior citizens for purchases at farmers markets. Seven states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Vermont) and three tribes (Chickasaw Nation and Osage Tribe, Oklahoma; Choctaw Band, Mississippi) now have senior farmers market coupons. These grants will support and extend the existing initiatives, as well as allow other states and tribes to develop such a program. Many states now operate a similar program for low-income families with young children, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

PROMOTING COMMUNITY EFFORTS TO ADDRESS NUTRITION ASSISTANCE. The President will announce $2.4 million for 16 Community Food Project Grants for nonprofit groups in 13 (California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, and Washington) to meet the needs of low-income people by increasing their access to fresher, more nutritious food; increasing the self-reliance of communities in providing for their own food needs; and promoting comprehensive responses to local food, farm, and nutrition issues. USDA will also release a new report outlining the accomplishments of the USDA Community Food Security Initiative. This report details how the Administration has worked in all fifty states to help faith-based organizations and nonprofit groups reduce hunger, improve nutrition, strengthen local food systems, and help families move from poverty to self-sufficiency. The report shows that, following the first National Summit on Food Recovery and Gleaning keynoted by Vice-President Gore in 1997, USDA employees across the nation helped glean or recover over 13 million pounds of nutritious food which was distributed to the hungry by faith-based organizations and other nonprofit groups at virtually no additional cost to the Federal government. The President will challenge federal employees in the next Administration to sustain these impressive efforts.

Expanding purchase of fruits and vegetables for distribution in communities through schools, food banks, and meal programs. The Administration will use its new authority to dramatically increase the amount of food supplied to food banks and other community-based feeding programs. Legislation reforming the crop insurance program signed by the President on June 20, 2000 authorized $200 million in commodity purchases which will go to food banks, school meals, food pantries, senior feeding programs, soup kitchens, and other government supported feeding programs. These purchases are in addition to the $100 million per year in mandatory commodity purchases through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the USDA discretionary buys, which were over $100 million this year.

Supporting Bipartisan Efforts to Address Domestic Hunger. While good nutrition is one important aspect of strengthening America's families, we must also continue our prosperity by giving working families support to succeed. The President will call on Congress to join him in enacting his budget proposal to restore food stamp benefits to legal immigrants, and other supports for working families like increasing the minimum wage, improving child support and promoting responsible fatherhood, and making investments in child care.

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