Press Release ● Poverty and Opportunity
For Immediate Release: 
November 4, 2015
Contact Info: 
Mariel Saez 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack met with the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity to discuss USDA’s efforts to address poverty in communities across the country.

During the discussion, Secretary Vilsack and Members of the Task Force discussed a number of initiatives, including Secretary Vilsack’s Strike Force Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity to address the specific challenges associated with rural poverty, which has brought targeted assistance to rural communities in 21 states and Puerto Rico. They also discussed child nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Special Milk Program, Summer Food Service Program, and Child and Adult Care Food Program.

“I was pleased to have Secretary Vilsack join the Task Force today to discuss how the Administration is working to address poverty in some of our hardest-hit communities,” stated Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer. “I thank him for meeting with us today to provide an update on these initiatives, and discuss ways that Members can partner with USDA to reach our shared goal of eradicating poverty and fighting hunger wherever it exists. I look forward to continuing to work with him and our Members to lift more Americans out of poverty and expand opportunities for all families to get ahead.” 

“It was an honor to host Secretary Vilsack for our meeting of the Whip’s Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity. At the US Department of Agriculture, Secretary Vilsack has been a critical ally in our shared fight to end poverty and hunger in America,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Chairwoman of the Task Force. “From the summer meal program to investments in SNAP, I am proud to work with Secretary Vilsack to ensure that all Americans can eat nutritious and affordable food.”

"I am encouraged by the fact that members of Congress understand that 85 percent of persistent poverty counties are rural, and the unique challenges that come with that," said Secretary Vilsack. "I appreciate the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity's recognition of the importance of anti-poverty strategies like USDA’s nutrition programs and StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity, as well as efforts like the White House Rural Council’s Rural Impact, to driving economic growth, upward mobility and self-sufficiency, particularly in remote rural communities. Congressional support for these strategies is critical, and I am pleased to call these Members of Congress strong partners in our efforts to grow the economy, create jobs, and provide opportunity for all Americans.”

Launched in 2013, the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality, and Opportunity works to raise the awareness of Members of Congress and the American people about the ongoing crisis of poverty, the positive human and economic impacts of effective poverty alleviation programs, and the need for a comprehensive national effort to eradicate poverty.The Task Force consults with key stakeholders and works closely with the Administration to develop support for strategies to eradicate poverty.