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Congressman Mike Honda Visits Sunnyvale Food-Assistance Site

Second Harvest Food Bank and Sunnyvale Community Services Highlight the Importance of Federal Programs that Prevent Local Families and Individuals from Going Hungry

SAN JOSE, Calif., August 15, 2013– Congressman Mike Honda, who represents California's 17th District, visited Sunnyvale Community Services today to see firsthand how federal food-assistance programs are helping to feed families and individuals in his district. Second Harvest Food Bank partners with Sunnyvale Community Services to provide nutritious food to those in need.

"Second Harvest and Sunnyvale Community Services play a vital role in feeding Silicon Valley families who might otherwise have no place to turn," Congressman Honda said. "As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have long fought to expand funding for programs that help those most in need in our communities. These organizations are a vital resource, and I will continue working to strengthen their support in Congress."

Representatives from Second Harvest Food Bank and Sunnyvale Community Services are concerned about proposed cuts to the federal nutrition programs they depend on to ensure that local residents who are struggling to put food on the table don't go hungry. These include The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (called CalFresh in California and also known as food stamps).

Both of these programs are historically funded through the federal Farm Bill, but last month the House of Representatives passed a Farm Bill that stripped funding for these nutrition programs. That vote put these two critical food-assistance programs in jeopardy. If significant funding cuts are passed, it could mean thousands of local families will have to go without the nutritious food they need to stay healthy.

"These cuts come at a time when hunger has reached record levels," said Kathy Jackson, CEO at Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. "Hunger has become pervasive, even in the suburbs. Right here in wealthy Silicon Valley, Second Harvest provides food to 250,000 people every month. That's one in 10 of our neighbors."

Second Harvest depends on the protein-rich commodities it receives through the TEFAP program to serve the ever-increasing number of people who need food. Through TEFAP, the USDA purchases surplus food, usually meat products, and distributes it to government and nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry. Last year Second Harvest received more than 7 million pounds of food through TEFAP, or 13 percent of the 53 million pounds the Food Bank distributed that year.

"Cuts to TEFAP would seriously hurt local families and individuals who depend on the food they get from Second Harvest," Jackson said. "The program supplies Second Harvest with much-needed meat products and other high-quality food items that we literally couldn't afford to buy."

CalFresh is another critical supplemental food program that allows families to purchase the healthy food they need. Second Harvest has a team of outreach workers who go out into the community to help people apply for CalFresh.

"CalFresh and USDA foods are a huge source of nutritious food for low-income children and seniors," said Marie Bernard, executive director of Sunnyvale Community Services. "A hungry child cannot learn, and a senior citizen should not have to choose between food and rent."

The Food Bank partners with more than 300 nonprofit agencies to provide food at more than 740 sites throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, including pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. Second Harvest Food Bank is one of only a few food banks in the nation that does not charge its partner agencies for the food it provides.

Sunnyvale Community Services has been partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank for more than 23 years. The agency's mission is to prevent homelessness and hunger for low-income families and seniors who are facing temporary crises. Sunnyvale Community Services assists about 7,000 people each year with food and/or financial aid. Last year the agency distributed more than 1.6 million pounds of food provided by Second Harvest.

"Thankfully, we don't have to pay for the food we get from Second Harvest," Bernard said. "Otherwise, agencies like Sunnyvale Community Services would have to cut back on the amount of food and other services provided to our clients."

Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties is the trusted leader dedicated to ending local hunger. Since its inception in 1974, Second Harvest has become one of the largest food banks in the nation, providing food to an average of one quarter of a million people each month. The Food Bank mobilizes individuals, companies and community partners to connect people to the nutritious food they need. More than half of the food distributed is fresh produce. Second Harvest also plays a leading role in promoting federal nutrition programs and educating families on how to make healthier food choices. Visit www.SHFB.org to get involved.