On March 19, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Deputy Administrator Lisa Pino traveled to Texas to meet with local leaders and members of the Rio Grande Valley community to talk about how to solve hunger issues in the area. FNS Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig and USDA Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Max Finberg also took part in the discussions.
The Rio Grande Valley meetings were the first in a series of “Community Roundtables” USDA will host in cities across the country. The roundtables are a key component of ending childhood hunger by 2015.
The first roundtable focused on the community at large. A second roundtable was held later that day with faith-based communities at the Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle-National Shrine.
Both roundtables were a success. FNS was able to solicit helpful feedback regarding how it can better work with the Rio Grande community to ensure eligible people participate in nutritional assistance programs, particularly the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP currently provides food assistance to 39 million low-income people across the country and is the nation’s largest anti-hunger program.
The 2000 census showed that 35 percent of the Rio Grande Valley population lived below the federal poverty level compared to 12 percent nationally.
South West Regional Administrator Bill Ludwig (holding the podium) is addressing 50 community leaders, anti-hunger advocates, faith-based groups, and food bank to discuss ways to ending childhood hunger by finding ways to increase participation in our programs