April 26, 2007 — Michael Akin, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands (CCVI), took the case for addressing hunger in the territory and the nation directly to the nations capital this week.
According to a CCVI release, Akin will attend a congressional briefing and meetings with congressional offices.
The activities were part of a Catholic Charities USAs Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America to focus attention on the need for action by Congress. Akin was among several-dozen Catholic Charities leaders who visited congressional offices. Catholic Charities also organized a virtual march on Washington in which people from around the country contacted their Congress members.
Hunger is a growing problem for families in our community and our nation, as more than 35 million Americans are hungry or living right at the edge, said Akin. But this is a problem that is all too real in our area, as well. We have also seen an increase in clients seeking assistance.
According to the release, nearly 45 percent of the assistance provided by Catholic Charities agencies across the country deals with food and nutrition. But the organization is also working to convince government leaders to strengthen anti-hunger measures, such as the Food Stamp program.
The group's national poverty-reduction campaign also seeks to cut the U.S. poverty rate in half by 2020. Improving government food and nutrition programs is one of four main issue areas of the campaign. The other major areas are increasing access to both health care and affordable housing, and promoting greater economic security for the poor and vulnerable through programs that support work and strengthen families.
The congressional briefing also included a series of policy recommendations along with personal stories about hunger, including one from a senior citizen from Baltimore and a Denver grandmother caring for three grandchildren.
The moral test of society is how it ensures the needs of the most vulnerable, including those unable to provide adequate food for themselves and their families, said the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA. It is unacceptable that in a nation as bountiful as ours that children, adults, and senior citizens experience food insecurity that puts their physical, mental, and developmental health at risk.
According to Akin, CCVI last year served nearly 50,000 hot meals and provided more than 12,000 nights of shelter to more than 100 Virgin Islanders.It is a national and a local crisis that so many children, seniors and low-income working adults must go without the most-basic needs," Akin said. "We should all work to make America and our community a hunger-free place to live.
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