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Finding Poor and Hungry People in the Second Inaugural Address

Hunger Report Monday

 

Yesterday we, the people of the United States, ceremoniously entrusted  President Barack Obama and his administration  with four more years to guide our country. That is a significant amount of time—even in Washington, where decisions always seem to take longer than they should.  It’s enough time to determine and establish a realistic goal and deadline to end hunger and poverty at home and extreme hunger and poverty abroad. Yesterday in his second inaugural address, the president gave both direct and indirect nods to the growing number of poor and hungry people in the United States and abroad:

Income Inequality: “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”

Living Wages and Jobs: “We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work, when the wages of honest labor will liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else because she is an American .”  

Social Safety Nets: “We remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn.  We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky or happiness for the few.  We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us at any time may face a job loss or a sudden illness or a home swept away in a terrible storm.”

Partnership for Global Development:  Around the world, “we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice.”

Immigration: “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity, until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”

The diversity of issues acknowledged in the address indicates the president’s attention to the multifaceted causes of hunger and poverty and the required set of tools to address them.  Acting on many fronts to solve such complex problems is a necessary step. But it must be followed by measurable goals—namely a goal to end hunger at home. The 2013 Hunger Report reminds us of a time when our country successfully waged an effective war on poverty—an effort that was galvanized by unapologetic presidential leadership. We need that leadership again. We need a goal.

  Derek profile thumbnail
Derek Schwabe
 is the 2013 Hunger Report project fellow at Bread for the World Institute.

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