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Abstract: In 1967 Senators Robert Kennedy and Joseph Clark focused national attention on hunger in America with their unscheduled and widely publicized tour of black homes in the Mississippi Delta. This case examines existing federal efforts -- as of early 1969 -- to address the problem of poverty-related hunger. In particular, it looks at food assistance programs administered by the US Department of Agriculture through the Consumer and Marketing Service. The case concludes with an explanation of the legislative process necessary to implement change and a description of the key actors in this process. The chronology lists the events leading to the "rediscovery of hunger in America." The sequel briefly describes federal efforts to combat hunger since 1969.
Learning Objective: This case offers an opportunity to examine the factors that lead to government action. The development of the "hunger issue" can be used to illustrate how a policy problem finds a wider constituency, how government response to an issue becomes institutionalized, and how various actors and institutions (i.e., Congress, the media, the executive branch) work to shape an issue. The case can be taught in conjunction with readings from Nick Kotz' book, Let Them Eat Promises: The Politics of Hunger in America.