Voting to End Hunger in the U.S.

Voting is a sacred responsibility. It is especially important in this election year that we exercise our right and make the correct choices. The world is seeing unprecedented progress against hunger and poverty. We are now at a place where we can realize a virtual end to hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. But to achieve this goal we must elect leaders who will work together to make it a priority.

In the United States, one in six children struggles with hunger, and 43 million Americans live in poverty. In fact, more Americans live in poverty than reside in the states of Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina combined.

In September, the Vote to End Hunger coalition delivered the names of more than 631,000 people who want to make end hunger a national priority to the two major presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump, and the presidential debate moderators.

Both presidential candidates sent statements to the coalition on what they would do about hunger and poverty. The two statements stand in stark contrast to each other. Trump would cut taxes, mainly for corporations and individuals earning high incomes. He argues that this would promote growth and jobs for low-income people. Clinton would invest in infrastructure and education, mainly for the middle-class. Her approach would, in fact, provide more jobs and help to families who struggle with hunger and poverty.

But it is not just the presidential campaign that is important this year. We also need to pay attention to the congressional races. A new report by the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which I am a member, concluded that programs aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, like tax credits for low-income workers and SNAP (also known as food stamps), are working. In fact, they cut the poverty rate in half. And with strengthened national commitment, hunger and poverty can be eliminated in the U.S.

Yet some members of Congress want to cut funding for many of these programs or alter them in ways that will make the programs less effective. This would take away from the progress we have already made and push even more people into hunger and poverty.

Instead, we need to put leaders in the House and Senate who will work together to pass laws, fund programs, and create policies to address the root causes of hunger and poverty (like the need for more good-paying jobs) and l put us on track to end hunger and poverty by 2030.

The new Congress and president we elect in November will take office in January, leaving only 13 years to achieve our goal. So they will need to get to work right away. Hunger and poverty are not partisan issues. I urge voters to look at what candidates on both sides of the aisle say they would do about ending hunger and poverty, and then vote for the candidates you think will do the most to work together on these issues.

The U.S. should not be a place where our children and working families struggle with the dual scourges of hunger and poverty. We know that ending hunger and poverty is possible in our lifetime. Our loving God invites us to defend the interests of those living with hunger and poverty when we make our voting decisions. I am praying this year voters elect a president and members of Congress who will work together to increase opportunity and reduce hunger and poverty.