Box 7, Folder 12, Document 8

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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 thei r i mpact on continuing hunger
and malnutrition in the United States .
Our basic thrust he r e
today is to urge you to act promptly and favorably on S . 2547 , the
Senate-passed Food St amp bill a nd to go fo rward , bey ond that
measure , to conside r a b r oad r a ng e o f f u r ther objectiv e s.
The documentatio n is o v e rwhelming a t t his poi n t t hat, de sp ite
u npr ecede n ted p r o s p er i ty and de s p ite a n umb e r of we l l - i n t enti o n ed
food p r ogr a ms, hunger and malnutrition do c o nt i n u e t o e xist in
this c o untry.
A partial listing of this d o cumentatio n includes
the following:
Hearings, Senate Subcommittee o n Employment,
Manpower and Poverty, April, 1967
Hunger U.S.A., Citizens Board of Inquiry Into
Hunger and Malnutrition in the United States,
. 1968
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"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
States," Committee Print, Senate
Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs,
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 thes e studi es and all these reports have
electrified the Nation.
Dr. Arnold Shaefer, Director, National
Nutrition Survey, U.S. Public Health Service, has testified before
this Committe e that p re l i mi n ary data fr om hi s survey indicated,
"Malnutrition is a health p r oble m i n t he United States, and our
preliminary f indings c learly indic a t e that the r e is malnutri tion
in a n exp ectedly l arge portio n of the sampled popula tion . "
Shockingly, Dr. Shaefer's survey a ls o uncover ed 7 cases o f mar as mus and kwas hi ako r which we did not believe exis ted in th is r i c h
country .
The Sub committee 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-
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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 malnutrition 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 o v er t wo years ago, our current food
programs are still not reaching three fourths of the poor, many
of whom suffer extreme pove rty.
At present, the direct distribu-
tion program is oper ating in 1187 counties and serving approximate ly
3.1 million individual recipients.
Under this program, 22 commo-
dities are made available to the sta tes with a retail value of
$15 per person per month.
Thes e commodities have less than
adequate amounts for energy and Vitamin A according to the National
Research Council's Recommended Dietary Allowances.
Moreover, the
average numb er of commodities di s tributed in the state s is 18,
which means _that e v en t ho se poor persons participating in this
federal food program are being denied an adequate diet.
The f ood s tamp pro gram provides a bonus for f ood purchases
which vari es with the income and family size of the recipient with
an average bonus of $ 6. 7 3 per person per month in food purchasing
3.2 million persons participate in this program.
program provides only 60 % o f the minimum needs of those in extreme
poverty who participate .
Both . programs fall far below the Depart-
ment o~ Agriculture's own economy food plan which call s for $25 per
4 -
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 le ss tha n $3000 a nnual income .
The Census Bureau estimates that 907,000 families have an
income of less than $1000, $200 less than the $1200 rock - bottom
USDA r e qui r e me nt fo r foo d a lone p e r y e ar .
families have incomes under $2000.
Anothe r 1.7 mil lion
It is safe to assume that
many membe rs of these famili e s are go i ng hungr y .
A famil y o f four
wi t h income s o f $2000 would h ave to s pend 60 % o f th at income on
f ood in o r d er to mee t USDA's economy plan standard s .
Cl ear l y
with the costs o f clothing , shelter, med ic i ne, utilities a nd other
fixe d n ecessary e x p e nses, these p e o p l e canno t eat adequate l y .
all, the a v erage Ame ric a n spe nd s only 17 . 4 % of his income for food.
Nor are poo r c h ildren b e ing reached b y the school lunch pro gram .
The r e are 32.5 million school c h i l d ren who do not have
acce s s t o school lunches.
Th e House Committ ee o n Edu cation a nd
Labor says 3 and a quarter mil l i o n of these childr en need f r ee
lunches a nd ano th e r 1 9 and a hal f millio n nee d reduced p rice
In sum, current family food programs offer little assistance
and fail to reach the great majority of the poor.
14 million of
�- 5 the poor consume food not meeting recommended dietary allowances 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,
he~p to remedy this situation, but at the $1,600 per year level
which has been prop.o sed for a family of four, it is clear that
improved and expanded food programs will remain an urgent need
for many of th e se famili e s.
A graphic way of illustrating what all these studies and
hearings show was presented by a witness before the Senate
Agriculture Committe e last May.
Mr . Robert Choa t e , who is an
exper t in th is fie ld and currently a cons ulta nt to th e White
House Conference on Food and Nutrition, introduced the following
b ar g raph :
90 - 95 % of the popula tion
Popu l a t ion adequately served
by private food industry
operating at a profit.
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f or the priva t e
enterprise system
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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.
the remaining gap.
Governmental programs have to fill
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 e x tends far beyond
the juri sdiction al lines of this or any other single Committee
of the Co n g r e s s .
Hunger and malnutr iti o n are in many instances
t he u nder l y i ng caus e s o f ill ness and publ i c health problems , of
inab il ity to learn and e duc a tio na l prob l ems , of unemploy ment ,
u nderemploy men t and a loss of p r oductivity.
With its act i on on
i mpr oving and expa nding Fe deral progr a ms that fill the food gap ,
th i s Commi ttee can have a pr o f o und e ff e ct on the whole range of
r el ated pro blems which wou ld o therw i s e be l e ft t o pi eceme al
consideration by other Committees.
Conversely, inactio n by
this Committee would create pressure upo n the other Committe es
to consider the impact of food deficiences on the pro blems 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.
substantial step toward these objectives would be taken by
enactment, with some adjustments, of S.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 thirteen members of the Select Committee
on Nutrition and Human Needs, which had held hearings throujhout
the country over a ten-month period.
Its sponsors were Senators
McGovern, Javits, Percy, Cook, Hollings, Pell, Yarborough,
Mondale, Kennedy, Hart, Spong and Goode ll.
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The following are the long-range objectives we believe
the Committee should address itself to:
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
S.2547 makes a start in this direction in Section 1(10),
which would afford participants:
"such instruction and counseling as will best a ssure
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
For example, HEW and OEO programs and the age ncies a nd
institutions they fund should also be enlisted in these e ffo rts,
a long with the Cooperative Extension Service.
Nutrition Research:
More precise knowledge is need ed
about the e x t e nt, incidence and location o f malnutr ition o n a
c onti nuing basis.
For e xample, HEW's Nation al Nutr i ti on Survey
should be expanded so that its sample is adequate , its data are
f u l ly analyz e d, and food program e ffecti v e n ess is mo nitored and
Special consideration should be given to t he particu l ar
nut r itional needs of the rura l poor , migrants, Eskimos, Indi a ns
a nd the e lderly .
S. 2547 doe s not deal with thi s s ub ject.
A f ull range of suppo rtive services is needed
at the local l evel t o re a ch mo~e of the Nation's urban, rural and
migrant poor with e x isting food assista n ce programs.
In h i s May 6
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message to the Congress, President Nixon pointed to OEO's "unique
outreach among the poor themselves."
S.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 f9od stores, in homes, through voluntary cooperation, in
Federal, State, local or private agencies which carry out informational and educational programs for consumers, and particularly
through th e national school lunch program and its e x tension
Section 1(10)). The cumbersome pre-certification procedure would
be amended so that an affidavit is s ufficient, subject to subsequent
disquali f icati on f or fraud (Section 1(12) and 1(17)); this parallels
the t e chnique l o ng a utho riz ed f o r t h e Fede ral income tax system.
Issuance of st amps a nd collection of payments for them would be
f a cilita ted by a uthorizin g use o f Pos t Offi ceR , banks , c red it unions,
the mai l s a n d other agencies.
(Secti ons 1(11) a nd 1(14 ) (3 )).
Un de r
limi ted c ircumstance s , whe re the Secr etar y of Agriculture determines
there i s a ne e d a nd no foo d sta mp p r ogra m e x ists , USDA would b e -·
a utho r ized t o admin i ster a foo d stamp program throug h a private
nonpro f it organiz ati o n o r a Fede ral, St a t e o r cou nty age ncy app r ove d
b y t h e Secr~t ary .
In l ine wi t h Pres i dent Ni xon ' s refe ren c e to OEO's
outreach cap abili t ies, we would hope th at OEO would b e g i v en a
substantial role in prov iding the serv ices necessary to fuller
p arti~ip ati o n of t he p o or i n a l l f ood a ss i s t ance p rogra ms - - not solely
the Food Stamp Program .
�- 10 4.
Private Enterprise:
A principal advantage of the Food
Stamp Program is that it utili z es the private food distribution
system rather than creating another distribution system as required
by other types of food assistance prog rams, particularly commodity
S.2547 wou l d 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 u p t o 47 percent of income to participa te in the program.
Free foo d stamps would be issued to families earning less than
one-half the amount determined by the Secretary of Agriculture to
be n e cess ary t o pur cha se a nutritionally adequate diet, at t his
time apfroximate l y $ 6 0 p e r mon t h f o r a family o f 4, o r $72 0 a
In no eve n t would more than 25 p ercent of a h ousehold's
i n come b e char ged f o r stamps ; agai n , t his is still higher than the
1 7 .4 percent o f income pai d fo r f o od by t h e ave rage fam i l y .
el igibi l i t y req u irements , wh ich now r a nge f rom $1 , 9 2 0 to $ 4, 1 40 for
a fami l y o f 4 and b e ar n o re l a t i on to geo graphic dif fe ren tial s i n
food p ri c es, woul d b e re placed by a mo re e q u i t a ble nationa l minimum
standar d of $4,00 0 a djuste d to take regi onal var i a tions into
As i mportan t as the s e ch a nge s would be, a number of othe r
programs should a l s o be initiat ed t o enlist the pri v ate sector
more fully in the distr ibuti on a nd e ducation p rocessP. s .
governmental efforts with foo d companies to provide foreign
developing nations with enriched and fortified foods should be
extended t
t his coun try as wel l.
Production, processing and
�- 11 -
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
As the President's May 6 Message recommended, "an
advisory committee of major food processing and food distribution
companies" should be established.
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 .
President called for special package and pilot voucher programs
by HEW and these should be authorized by legislation.
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 p a r ti ci pate .
Simi lar
emphasis on poor children should -be mand ated upon the special milk
program .
Private f ood companies shoul d br ing t he i r e xpe r t i se in
processing and distr ibution t o low-i ncome ar ea schools whi ch lack
adequate facilities for preparation o f me a l s.
Again , S.2547 d oes
n ot c over these subjects .
Dire ct Commodity Dis t r ibu tion:
New d irec ti o n should be
give n to co~o dity distribu tion so t h at it supp l e me nt s food st a mp
and scho ol feed ing prog r ams .
Together these prog rams should ensure
that low-income families have available to them a range of foods
nece~sary for a nutritious and well - balanced diet.
standards of eligibility, cash payments to States, grants to public
�- 12 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 participation 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.186 4, by Senator Talmadge; H.R. 13423,
the Foley-Green bill; and H.R. 12222, the Administration bill
introduced by Congresswoman May.
We recognize 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 $50 0 ,000,000 difference in fiscal years
1971 and 1972 .
But as Senator Hollings stated on the Senate floor
when S.2547 was passed, "This is no time to holler 'ch aos ' and
' the end of the world is coming' over the e x penditure of $500 million
in the ne x t fiscal year," particularly when compared with e xpenditures
�- 13 for other purposes.
It has 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 re cent months.
These indicate
a growing national awareness and concern about food shortages and
deficiencies and the need f or e x panded and improved food programs.

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