Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a joint panel, hosted by the Congressional Access to Legal Aid Caucus and House Hunger Caucus, examining the role of legal aid in addressing food insecurity in the United States. The event was co-hosted by Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Access to Legal Aid Caucus, and Congressman Jim McGovern, Chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Co-Chair of the House Hunger Caucus.
Each of the panelists discussed their unique perspectives in assisting and advocating for those who experienced issues accessing benefits, especially food assistance benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For MAZON, we know that long-term solutions to food insecurity require synergistic coordination between policymakers, advocates, and other stakeholders, including legal experts, to ensure that those who are entitled to accessing benefits are not wrongly denied or deterred due to onerous administrative barriers. Ending hunger also requires combating the stigmatization and shame those who need assistance face, perpetuating a perception of people who are less deserving of support.
The conversation and recommendations discussed at this panel will contribute to the Legal Aid Caucus’s final submission to the forthcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Health and Nutrition. You can also read MAZON’s full priorities for the conference here.
Conversations between experts, advocates, and policymakers are vital in addressing the scourge of hunger and we hope the information gathered here will help all of us commit to moving forward on long-term political solutions to finally ending food insecurity in America.