Editorial: We applaud Rep. McGovern’s attention to hunger

  • Recorder Staff/Tom RelihanCongressman Jim McGovern speaks at Greenfield Community College Wednesday night. Tom Relihan

Published: 7/21/2016 6:52:07 PM

When it comes to the issue of hunger in America, Congressman James McGovern makes sense. If only we could get others in positions of power to see the issue the same way, life could be better for many of us.

McGovern, who represents the eastern half of Franklin County, says widespread food insecurity among the poorest members of society isn’t just a matter of having enough money or food. The country’s political divide and gridlock in Washington are the main reasons hunger and food insecurity have become such a problem in the United States today, he asserts.

“Hunger is a political condition,” McGovern told a recent gathering at Greenfield Community College, organized with the Food Bank of Western Mass. “We have the resources, we have the infrastructure, we have the food, everything to end hunger in this country, except the political will. That’s what makes this issue so maddening.”

McGovern said the narrative sold during debates on Capitol Hill is not grounded in reality, with some of his colleagues scapegoating the poorest members of society as lazy and unwilling to work.

“The reality is the majority of people on (the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) are children. Of those who can work, the majority work,” he said. “Wouldn’t you think the discussion should be about how to make sure work pays enough so that people don’t have to rely on government assistance to put food on the table? But people don’t want to go there.”

McGovern said he hopes to begin corralling officials high in the federal government to develop a national plan to end hunger and to expand rather than reduce food assistance programs and benefits to match the rising cost of living.

McGovern said he’d like to take a crack at revising the Welfare Reform Act to include more access to job training programs so that people who transition from welfare to work don’t remain hungry.

McGovern has become known as a prominent and active advocate for the poor and hungry during his time in Congress, making fighting hunger a cornerstone of his political efforts and recently being honored for his work in that field by the James Beard Foundation.

In a time when it’s easy to get caught up in seemingly loftier national or international issues, it’s nice to see national politicians can also stay in tune with problems closer to home and try to do something about them on the national stage.

We wish McGovern luck as he continues to fight for the hungry and hope others will add their voices and lend their support to his effort to move Congress to help end poverty and hunger through short-term food assistance and long-term solutions such as job training. Our community and nation are starving for that kind of political common sense.


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