Congressman Randy Forbes
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NOVEMBER 24, 2009 Twitter Facebook YouTube Digg RSS
Beyond Thanksgiving Dinner

If you are the lucky family member who is tasked with Thanksgiving dinner grocery shopping, you may have noticed a slightly higher grocery bill this week than years before. And while you may have growing teenagers who are consuming more and more food, an ever-expanding list of “must-have” dishes, or the addition of the in-laws this year, the reality of the price increase is probably related to something even further out of your control. During the last year, U.S. grocery prices have increased 5.1 percent overall:

- Milk increased 17 percent
- Cheese increased 15 percent
- Rice and pasta increased 13 percent
- Bread increased 12 percent
- Healthy foods (lean meats and vegetables) increased 20 percent

Grocery prices are not just having an impact on the total price of Thanksgiving dinner. They’re also having a daily impact on millions of Americans. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), half a million households in America are “food insecure,” which means that they the lack basic food intake to provide them with enough energy and nutrients for a productive life. And in the face of a recession, food insecurity in the U.S. is higher than any time since the government began tracking it 14 years ago.

In an era of big government, there is one school of thought that says the federal government should be primarily responsible for addressing the dichotomy of hunger in a wealthy nation. But often times the people who are making the biggest difference in addressing hunger in America are not bureaucrats overseeing programs in Washington but individuals right in our own communities – the young mom who organizes a community food drive, the church leaders that open a food pantry, or the couple that volunteers weekends at the local food bank after working 40 hours during the week. Community food banks have become a primary and reliable source of nourishment for many American families.
Yet, with unemployment at 10.2 percent, food banks across the nation are finding it hard to keep up. Food banks are seeing a significant rise in new visitors, some with as much as a 36% increase in new families. In some cases, families are even being turned away from food banks because of short supply.

Food banks are also seeing a new demographic of visitors – families from different neighborhoods and demographic backgrounds are relying on food banks to provide them with their basic grocery needs, proving that hunger is not confined to urban or extreme rural areas; the need for food banks spans across many areas of American life.

While food banks may not be a solution to hunger, they help provide necessary fuel to get many Americans through the day. We certainly have room to improve at the federal level, like addressing regulations to make it easier for schools to donate unused food to local banks, and educating small businesses on the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act, which protects donors who donate in good faith from liability. We also have an opportunity to help at an individual level.

The holiday season comes with a natural sense of gratitude. We love to shower our families with gifts, make special desserts for loved ones, and throw some extra change in the tin bucket held by a bell-ringing Santa on our way into Macy’s or Dillard’s. This year we also have an opportunity to encourage families by sharing with our local food banks. Food banks are in great need of food that will help families maintain a healthy diet and provide sustenance, especially heading into the winter months.

If your family is considering helping a food bank this year, visit these online resources:
Find Food Banks by Zip Code
Locate Feed food banks that serve your local community.

Find Central Virginia Food Drop Locations 
Visit the Central Virginia Food Bank website to learn more about food drop sites and urgent needs in the central Virginia region.

What Should I Donate?
Find out what items are most needed at community food banks with this Food Bank Top 10 Wanted List.

Host Your Own Food and Fund Drive
Learn how you can host your own food and fund drive at your company, school or place of worship through the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia.

In addition, many churches operate food banks, providing meals not only to some members of their own congregation, but to the surrounding communities as well. Check places of worship in your own community for details on various food bank programs.

When we remember our neighbors, move beyond the inconvenience of disrupting our busy schedules and into a character of giving voluntarily, the impact reaches far beyond a meal – it helps bring hope and encouragement to individuals and communities that will last for years to come.

Randy's Blog: A Study in Contrasts

- In response to the global economic downturn, China has made a focused investment in roads and infrastructure to stimulate their economy, while the United States has relied on short term bailout and stimulus packages that borrow money for corporate bailouts and social programs.

- While China continues to build up and modernize their military force, our Administration is focused on reducing our carrier fleet and has refused to submit a shipbuilding plan as required by law.

- And while our national debt continues to explode, China has strategically bought up more of our national debt than any other country, thus strengthening their bargaining position.

This week, the U.S.-China Commission released their 2009 report on the People’s Republic of China. As founder and chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, I look at these annual reports closely.  This year’s report highlights the fact that China remains the most aggressive country conducting espionage against the United States. They lack regard for transparency, product safety, and intellectual property rights, and their currency manipulation has greatly contributed to global trading imbalances.

I’ve long argued that China’s actions warrant concern.  I continue to argue so, but I believe equally that the actions of the U.S. warrant great concern. Our national leaders must not wait in developing a cohesive strategy to ensure that China works towards becoming a responsible and cooperative global participant.  But they also must not wait to make clear and concerted efforts to address the runaway spending, ballooning debt, and weakened national defense posture that have marked a recent path toward deteriorating economic, fiscal and strategic security on the global stage.


Forbes Signs Petition to Vote on "Keep Terrorists Out of America Act



Congressman Forbes recently signed a petition to force a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Keep Terrorists Out of America Act. Use the link below to read more.  

Follow this link to read.

Thanksgiving Travel Tips from TSA


The Transportation Security Administration has published a list of tips for Thanksgiving travel, including information on holiday-specific items you may be traveling with.   

Follow this link to read. 

Intern With Congressman Forbes' Office

If you are a college student or recent graduate interested in interning with one of Congressman Forbes' offices, use the link below for information on how to apply.    

Follow this link to find out. 

Other News

Nov 20, 2009 
Forbes Announces Trade Assistance Approved for Saw Mill Closure  

Nov 18, 2009
House Committee Passes Forbes’ Bill to Expand Petersburg National Battlefield  

Nov 13, 2009
Forbes Asks VA to Bolster Claims Processing for Veterans  

Congressman with Norfolk Naval Shipyard Commander, William C. Kiestler and class Valedictorian, Ms. Laura Robbins at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard Apprentice Graduation Ceremony.
Congressman Forbes joins Newt Gingrich as the sponsor of the premier of his newest documentary, Rediscovering God in America II. 
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