End government shutdown to stop hunger crisis

End government shutdown to stop hunger crisis
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The government shutdown over President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE's border wall is causing a hunger crisis. Furloughed federal workers are missing paychecks and turning to food banks for support. Kate Leone of Feeding America says “we are already seeing an impact on families and individuals needing food who are experiencing hardship due to the shutdown.”
 
Trump should reopen the government at once and not use a shutdown as a bargaining tool for getting a border wall. Trump refuses to sign legislation that does not include $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the Mexican border to prevent migrants from entering. 
 
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Instead of negotiating in good faith for his wall, Trump instead stated, "I will shut down the government." He then plunged the country into the longest shutdown in U.S. history. That's not leadership. 
 
We have enough trouble with hunger in America without adding on to it. The loss of income for 800,000 federal employees means even more families will need food assistance. Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape Dayton Democrat launches challenge to longtime GOP rep Dayton mayor: Trump visit after shooting was 'difficult on the community' MORE (D-Ohio) says “President Trump is taking paychecks away from thousands of American workers and throwing families into crisis every day he refuses to reopen the government.”
 
The food stamp program (SNAP) will continue into February for those already living in hunger. What happens beyond that is a disaster in the making.
 
Feeding America warns "Food banks and other charitable organizations cannot fill the gap if the 38 million people who depend on SNAP lose their benefits because the government is not reopened before February allotments end."
 
Trump could end the shutdown now and let the government reopen. He could have done this before Christmas by signing legislation that Democrats and Republicans had agreed on. 
 
Trump should put aside the funding demand for the wall and approve legislation in Congress to get everyone back to work. The debate over the wall and immigration policy could take place with America running again. If Trump won't do this, then Democrats and Republicans will have to reopen the government on their own by overriding his veto. America cannot remain shut down. 
 
But the truth is the border wall won't solve the root causes of why people migrate to America in the first place. Hunger is a major driving force causing families from the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) to make the dangerous journey through Mexico to the United States.

A UN World Program survey of migrants from the Northern Triangle revealed that “no food” was a primary reason for leaving their home countries. Drought has hit Central America in recent years limiting the ability of small farmers to grow food.  

No food means no income. You can see why people in Central America would become desperate enough to flee. Guatemala, for example, has nearly half of its children malnourished.

Wasting money on a border wall won’t solve the hunger crisis in Central America, and if the shutdown is prolonged it will accelerate hunger here too. David Beckmann of the Bread for the World says the Trump border wall will "waste taxpayer funds that could be invested in programs that help people experiencing hunger.”
 
Look at the ominous warning from the U.S. famine alert system: "Across 46 countries, 83 million people require emergency food assistance in 2019, 75 [percent] more than in 2015." We can’t build peace in Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, or South Sudan if there is starvation. 

Congress needs to be at work increasing funding for Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole global school lunch program. The World Food Program, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, UNICEF and other agencies depend on this funding.  
 
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This shutdown has had a negative impact on our global food aid programs. Bill O'Keefe, the vice president of Mission and Mobilization for Catholic Relief Services says "The latest government shutdown has created funding delays and operational confusion for our program staff in various countries, and has also created an overall sense of uncertainty for our partners. Such delays and confusion can ultimately hurt our local relationships, which can then impact the overall design, implementation, and effectiveness of our programs.” 
 
The shutdown is the latest in a series of poor governance. O'Keefe adds "Combined with delayed Congressional approval of budgets, draconian federal budget requests, and threats of rescissions, continued shutdowns will risk lives and jeopardize the reputation of the United States as a reliable partner."
 
We need to get the government running right again so we can fight hunger overseas and at home. 

Democrats and Republicans should work together to reopen the government so we can get busy on these difficult challenges. Trump’s wall is not the answer to the immigration crisis and certainly not worth shutting down the government over.
 
William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services on the book "Ending World Hunger."