Box 7, Folder 12, Document 8

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Statement by

Special Counsel to
The Urban Coalition Action Council

before the

Committee on Agriculture

United States House of Representatives

October 31, 1969

Mr. Chairman and members of this Committee:

My name is Stephen Kurzman, and I am appearing on behalf
of the Urban Coalition Action Council. We appreciate the oppor-
tunity to appear before this Committee on the critical question
of domestic food programs and their impact on continuing hunger
and malnutrition in the United States. Our basic thrust here
today is to urge you to act promptly and favorably on S.2547, the
Senate-passed Food Stamp bill .and to go forward, beyond that
measure, to consider a broad range of further objectives.

The documentation is overwhelming at this point that, despite
unprecedented prosperity and despite a number of well-intentioned
food programs, hunger and malnutrition do continue to exist in
this country. A partial listing of this documentation includes
the following:

Hearings, Senate Subcommittee on Employment,
Manpower and Poverty, April, 1967
Hunger U.S.A., Citizens Board of Inquiry Into

Hunger and Malnutrition in the United States,

"Hunger in America", C.B.S. documentary,
Produced by Martin Carr, May, 1968

Hearings, Senate, "Hunger and Malnutrition"
before Senate Subcommittee on Employment,
Manpower and Poverty, May & June, 1968

Hearings, Senate Select Committee on Nutrition
and Human Needs, “Nutrition and Human Needs",
12 volumes of hearings, December 1968-1969

"The Food Gap: Poverty and Malnutrition in the
United States," Committee Print, Senate
Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs,
August 1969

Report, Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition,
President's Urban Affairs Council, March, 1969

Report of Dr. Arnold Shaefer, Director, National
Nutrition Survey, U.S. Public Health Service

Poverty, Malnutrition and Federal Funding Assistance

Programs, "A Statistical Summary", Committee Print,

Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs,

September, 1969

The findings in all these studies and all these reports have

electrified the Nation. Dr. Arnold Shaefer, Director, National
Nutrition Survey, U.S. Public Health Service, has testified before
this Committee that preliminary data from his survey indicated,
"Malnutrition is a health problem in the United States, and our
preliminary findings clearly indicate that there is malnutrition
in an expectedly large portion of the sampled population."
Shockingly, Dr. Shaefer's survey also uncovered 7 cases of maras-
mus and kwashiakor which we did not believe existed in this rich
country. The Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition of the President's
Urban Affairs Council estimated that half of all infants from poor

families in the United States are likely to suffer from under-

nutrition and that there is no significant proportion of the
poor who do not suffer from under-nutrition. Moreover, it
estimates that half of the poor in the Southern states and a
fifth of the poor in non-Southern states suffer from malnutri-
tion and that "scattered evidence indicates five to ten million
(persons) are suffering from severe hunger and malnutrition."
Despite the crying need, documented in all of the forums
cited above and beginning over two years ago, our current food

programs are still not reaching three fourths of the poor, many

of whom suffer extreme poverty. At present, the direct distribu-

tion program is operating in 1187 counties and serving approximately

3.1 million individual recipients. Under this program, 22 commo-
dities are made available to the states with a retail value of

$15 per person per month. These commodities have less than
adequate amounts for energy and Vitamin A according to the National
Research Council's Recommended Dietary Allowances. Moreover, the
average number of commodities distributed in the states is 18,
which means that even those poor persons participating in this
federal food program are being denied an adequate diet.

The food stamp program provides a bonus for food purchases
which varies with the income and family size of the recipient with
an average bonus of $6.73 per person per month in food purchasing
power. 3.2 million persons participate in this program. This
program provides only 60% of the minimum needs of those in extreme
poverty who participate. Both programs fall far below the Depart-

ment of Agriculture's own economy food plan which calls for $25 per

person per month or $1200 per year for a family of four -- an
amount USDA admits can be utilized by only the most ingenious

of the poor to gain a balanced diet. Moreover, there remain
approximately 470 counties and independent cities with no food
programs at all, andwhich include about 8% of the poor. In areas
where food programs operate, less than one third of the poor are
being reached -- around 6 million of 20 million persons living

in families with less than $3000 annual income.

The Census Bureau estimates that 907,000 families have an
income of less than $1000, $200 less than the $1200 rock-bottom
USDA requirement for food alone per year. Another 1.7 million
families have incomes under $2000. It is safe to assume that
Many members of these families are going hungry. A family of four
with incomes of $2000 would have to spend 60% of that income on
food in order to meet USDA's economy plan standards. Clearly
with the costs of clothing, shelter, medicine, utilities and other
fixed necessary expenses, these people cannot eat adequately. After
all, the average American spends only 17.4% of his income for food.

Nor are poor children being reached by the school lunch pro-
gram. There are 32.5 million school children who do not have
access to school lunches. The House Committee on Education and
Labor says 3 and a quarter million of these children need free
lunches and another 19 and a half million need reduced price

In sum, current family food programs offer little assistance

and fail to reach the great majority of the poor. 14 million of

the poor consume food not meeting recommended dietary allow-

ances and 8 million more are on diets with less than two-thirds
of the recommended allowances for one or more essential nutrients.
Nor are our welfare programs reaching them. Only 10.2 million

of the country's 25.4 million persons living below the poverty
line receive any form of welfare assistance. The Family

Assistance Program proposed by President Nixon will, we hope,

help to remedy this situation, but at the $1,600 per year level

which has been proposed for a family of four, it is clear that
improved and expanded food programs will remain an urgent need
for many of these families.

A graphic way of illustrating what all these studies and
hearings show was presented by a witness before the Senate
Agriculture Committee last May. Mr. Robert Choate, who is an
expert in this field and currently a consultant to the White
House Conference on Food and Nutrition, introduced the following

bar graph:


90 - 95% of the population

Population adequately served
by private food industry
operating at a profit.

The profit limit,
for the private |!
enterprise system

-—> |

Damaged Goods
Home Grown
Food Stamps


He pointed out that the private food industry adequately serves

90 to 95 percent of the Nation's population. The remaining 5

to 10 percent still must eat, but lack the cash to do so adequately.
The alternatives developed to provide for this 5 to 10 percent

only reach a portion of the need: cooperatives, soup kitchens

and charity feeding houses, home grown foods, occasional sales

of damaged goods at a loss. Governmental programs have to fill

the remaining gap. The largest are the Food Stamp and direct
distribution commodities programs. But as the graph illustrates,

a substantial gap remains.

What that food gap means in human terms extends far beyond
the jurisdictional lines of this or any other single Committee
of the Congress. Hunger and malnutrition are in many instances
the underlying causés of illness and public health problems, of
inability to learn and educational problems, of unemployment,
underemployment and a loss of productivity. With its action on
improving and expanding Federal programs that fill the food gap,
this Committee can have a profound effect on the whole range of
related problems which would otherwise be left to piecemeal
consideration by other Committees. Conversely, inaction by
this Committee would create pressure upon the other Committees
to consider the impact of food deficiences on the problems with

which they must deal.

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We urge this Committee to devise a strategy for closing

the food and nutrition gap. We recommend a series of objec-

tives which we believe should be sought by that strategy. A

substantial step toward these objectives would be taken by
enactment, with some adjustments, of §.2547, the Food Stamp
bill passed on September 24, 1969 by a substantial bipartisan
majority of Senators.

The Senate-passed bill was introduced by a bipartisan group
including nine of the thifteen members of the Select Committee
on Nutrition and Human Needs, which had held hearings throughout
the country over a ten-month period. Its sponsors were Senators
McGovern, Javits, Percy, Cook, Hollings, Pell, Yarborough,

Mondale, Kennedy, Hart, Spong and Goodell.

The following are the long-range objectives we believe
the Committee should address itself to:

Ls Nutrition Education and Information: There is a great
need to improve knowledge among the poor, as well as among many
families who are not poor, or healthful nutritional practices, of
how to obtain nutritious foods and maintain a wholesome and balanced
Giet. S.2547 makes a start in this direction in Section 1(10),
which would afford participants:

"such instruction and counseling as will best assure

that they are able to use their increased purchasing

power to obtain those nutritious foods most likely to

insure that they receive a nutritionally adequate diet."

This is an effort which should not, in our view, be limited only
to food stamp recipients or only to agencies concerned with food
stamps. For example, HEW and OEO programs and the agencies and
institutions they fund should also be enlisted in these efforts,
along with the Cooperative Extension Service.

2s Nutrition Research: More precise knowledge is needed
about the extent, incidence and location of malnutrition on a
continuing Badia: For example, HEW's National Nutrition Survey
should be expanded so that its sample is adequate, its data are
fully analyzed, and food program effectiveness is monitored and
evaluated. Special consideration should be given to the particular
nutritional needs of the rural poor, migrants, Eskimos, Indians
and the elderly. S.2547 does not deal with this subject.

a's Outreach: A full range of supportive services is needed
at the local level to reach more of the Nation's urban, rural and

migrant poor with existing food assistance programs. In his May 6

message to the Congress, President Nixon pointed to OEO's "unique
outreach among the poor themselves." §.2547 would expand avail-
ability of food stamps by permitting certain private non-profit
institutions, including mobile food services, which provide meals

to older persons to accept food stamps (Section 1(1) and 1(16)).

It would spread awareness of the programs by authorizing the

giving of instruction and counseling mentioned above at schools;
retail food stores, in homes, through voluntary cooperation, in
Federal, State, local or private agencies which carry out infor-
mational and educational programs for consumers, and particularly
through the national school lunch program and its extension

Bdetion 1(10)). The cumbersome pre-certification procedure would

be amended so that an affidavit is sufficient, subject to subsequent
disqualification for fraud (Section 1(12) and 1(17)); this parallels
the technique long authorized for the Federal income tax system.
Issuance of stamps and collection of payments for them would be
facilitated by authorizing use of Post Offices, banks, credit unions,
the mails and other agencies. (Sections 1(11) and 1(14)(3)). Under
limited circumstances, where the Secretary of Agriculture determines
there is a need and no food stamp program exists, USDA would be-
authorized to administer a food stamp program through a private
nonprofit organization or a Federal, State or county agency approved
by the Secretary. In line with President Nixon's reference to OEO's
outreach capabilities, we would hope that OEO would be given a

substantial role in providing the services necessary to fuller

participation of the poor in all food assistance programs -- not solely

the Food Stamp Program.

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4, Private Enterprise: A principal advantage of the Food
Stamp Program is that it utilizes the private food distribution
system rather than creating another distribution system as required
by other types of food assistance programs, particularly commodity
distribution. $§.2547 would permit more of the poor to be reached
by the private system by improving the current payment and value
schedules, which require payment in advance on a rigid monthly
basis of up to 47 percent of income to participate in the program.
Free food stamps would be issued to families earning less than
one-half the amount aevevntned by the Secretary of Agriculture to
be necessary to purchase a nutritionally adequate diet, at this
time approximately $60 per month for a family of 4, or $720 a
year. In no event would more than 25 percent of a household's
income be charged for stamps; again, this is still higher than the
17.4 percent of income paid for food by the average family. State
eligibility requirements, which now range from $1,920 to $4,140 for
a family of 4 and bear no relation to geographic differentials in
food prices, would be replaced by a more equitable national minimum
standard of $4,000 adjusted to take regional variations into

As important as these changes would be, a number of other
programs should also be initiated to enlist the private sector
more fully in the distribution and education processes. Current
governmental efforts with food companies to provide foreign
developing nations with enriched and fortified foods should be

extended to this country as well. Production, processing and

SPE es

distribution by small food businesses in low-income areas should
be encouraged by the Small Business Administration, the Department
of Commerce, and OEO, especially with the aid of local development
corporations. As the President's May 6 Message recommended, "an
advisory committee of major food processing and food distribution
companies" should be established.

Di Maternal and Child Nutrition: As the President stated
and as Dr. Shaefer emphasized in his testimony before this
Committee, malnutrition during pregnancy and in the infant and
young child can cause physical and mental retardation. The
President called for special package and pilot voucher programs
by HEW and these should be authorized by legislation. Participation
in free or reduced-price school lunch programs should be increased
by establishing national eligibility and funding standards for
local school districts so that all needy children, less than half
of whom now benefit from these funds, can participate. Similar
emphasis on poor children should be mandated upon the special milk
program. Private food companies should bring their expertise in
processing and distribution to low-income area schools which lack
adequate facilities for preparation of meals. Again, S.2547 does
not cover these subjects.

6. Direct Commodity Distribution: New direction should be
given to commodity distribution so that it supplements food stamp
and school feading programs. Together these programs should ensure
that low-income families have available to them a range of Foods
necessary for a nutritious and well-balanced diet. National

standards of eligibility, cash payments to States, grants to public

om AD oe

and private agencies and use of Section 32 funds for purchase
of nutritional foods not otherwise available under Federal
food programs, should be authorized. USDA should assist State
and local agencies in outreach efforts to insure maximum partici-
pation of low-income families, and distribution should be
facilitated, in conjunction with OEO, HEW, and HUD, through
neighborhood centers. S§.2547 makes one important advance by
permitting a combination of food stamp and commodity programs
under certain narrowly defined circumstances (Section 1({7)).

The objectives we have outlined are not ours alone, by
any means. Most were identified and recommended to the President
by the Food and Nutrition Committee of the Urban Affairs Council.
Many were embodied in the President's May 6 Message. Many are
embodied in bills already introduced in both Houses of Congress,
such as S.2789, introduced by Senator Javits and a bipartisan
group of co-sponsors; S.1864, by Senator Talmadge; H.R. 13423,
the Foley-Green bill; and H.R. 12222, the Administration bill
introduced by Congresswoman May.

i= Henognivea that these objectives will incur additional
cost to the U.S. Treasury; for food stamps alone, $1.25 billion in
the current fiscal year instead of $750 million under the current
projections, and a similar $500,000,000 difference in fiscal years
1971 and 1972. But as Senator Hollings stated on the Sénate floor
when $.2547 was passed, "This is no time to holler 'chaos' and
"the end of the world is coming' over the expenditure of $500 million

in the next fiscal year," particularly when compared with expenditures

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for other purposes. It haa been estimated that the objectives
other than those relating to food stamps would cost approximately
$415 million in the first year. Again, matched against other
expenditures, including some $3 billion in agricultural subsidies
annually, this does not appear to require a major wrenching of
national priorities. The comprehensive approach to food assistance
we recommend is well worth the additional cost and may well cost
less than the loss of productivity and wasted lives caused by
hunger and malnutrition,

For the record we would like to offer a number of editorials,
local news stories and columns from newspapers, both large and small,
in many parts of the Nation in recent months. These indicate
a growing national awareness and concern about food shortages and

deficiencies and the need for expanded and improved food programs.

public items show