WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Congresswoman Jahana Hayes (CT-05) released the following statement after her election as the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations. Within the House Committee on Agriculture, the Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations has jurisdiction over policies and statutes relating to nutrition, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), domestic commodity distribution and consumer initiatives, departmental and agency oversight, and special investigations.

“I assume this position amidst an exponentially exacerbated national hunger crisis. With the spread of COVID-19, 29 million adults and as many as 12 million children live in households struggling to afford food. These problems were not created by COVID-19. Americans have long been falling through the cracks and into food insecurity due to outdated benefit levels, food deserts, underfunding, barriers between communities and local agricultural producers, and lack of outreach or nutrition education. Hunger is not inevitable – it is a policy choice. As Subcommittee Chairwoman, I am steadfast in my commitment to ensuring anti-hunger policy is at the center of our national COVID-19 response and all agricultural legislation,” said Chairwoman Hayes.

The weight of history is not lost on me as I take on this role. Not only do I continue the work of incoming Secretary Marcia Fudge – a champion of nutrition policy and resolute purveyor of accountability at the United States Department of Agriculture – I also carry on the work of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, a tireless champion of anti-hunger policy and architect of the SNAP for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. The work of women on this Subcommittee, who championed nutrition programs in the face of poverty, created the space which allows me to take on this responsibility today. I am acutely aware of the honor and opportunity of this position, and will strive to continue the legacy of these heroic legislators.

“To this Subcommittee, I bring a unique appreciation for the vital importance of nutrition assistance programs in the United States. SNAP benefits were a lifesaver for me as I worked multiple low wage jobs while attending school and raising my young family. As a teacher, I worked in a Title I school district, with 100% of students receiving free and reduced price lunch. My international travel as National Teacher of the Year has helped me to fully understand that chronic food insecurity is not only unacceptable, but morally reprehensible and detrimental to the success of all communities.

“I look forward to working with President Biden, incoming Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, NODO Subcommittee Ranking Member, and all my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee in eradicating hunger while bolstering American agriculture and ensuring the operations of the USDA are congruent with congressional intent.”

Chairman David Scott applauded the election of Congresswoman Hayes to the Chair of the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee. During this critical time in our nation when the ongoing COVID-19 crisis has significantly amplified hunger for vulnerable Americans, we need the leadership of Members like Congresswoman Jahana Hayes,” said Chairman David Scott. “Her passion and dedication to end hunger for all will serve her well in her role as Chair. I look forward to working with Chairwoman Hayes to advance the priorities of the Subcommittee.”

Chairwoman Hayes served on the Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations Subcommittee in the 116th Congress. A champion of nutrition policy, she introduced several pieces of legislation to ensure workers impacted by COVID-19 retained SNAP eligibility, to require that college students are notified of their SNAP eligibility, and to encourage grocery delivery to SNAP recipients in the midst of COVID-19. A member of the Education and Labor Committee, she has been active in efforts to expand and defend the National School Lunch Program, as well as ensure its continuity in the midst of virtual learning environments.