Supporters of federal food programs accused President Reagan yesterday of stacking a new study commission on hunger with conservatives and outspoken opponents of welfare and anti-hunger programs.
None of the eight persons reportedly selected for the commission "has a track record in support of federal food assistance," and four have records opposing such aid, said Robert Greenstein, who headed the Agriculture Department's Food and Nutrition Service during the Carter administration.
"This appears to be a commission set up to exonerate Reagan policies in these programs, and it may even recommend further budget cuts," added Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit research group.
Reagan is expected to formally announce the members of the Task Force on Food Assistance shortly, but White House officials have confirmed the names of eight prospective members.
One is economist Kenneth Clarkson. As associate director of the Office of Management and Budget for human resources for a year until last April, he helped fashion an administration budget that called for cutting the food stamp program by $1 billion and child nutrition programs by $300 million a year.
Clarkson, in a 1975 book, called the food stamp program a failure and suggested several minimum-cost diets, including one 3,000-calorie-a-day diet of wheat and pancake flour, cabbage, spinach and pork liver.
Nancy Amidei, director of the Food Research and Action Center, said Clarkson's appointment was symbolic of the administration's attitude toward hunger.
"This is the same administration that said ketchup was a vegetable, so we shouldn't be surprised if it appoints someone who thinks hungry people should live on a diet of pigs' liver, pancake flour and cabbage," said Amidei, a deputy assistant secretary in the Carter administration's Health and Human Services Department.
Another expected appointee, Dr. George Graham of Johns Hopkins University, wrote a paper under contract to OMB in 1981 that the Reagan adminstration used to justify efforts to cut the women-infants-children feeding program (WIC).
He has also said, in testimony before the Senate Agriculture Committee, that revelations of hunger and malnutrition in 1968 "were gross distortions of the facts."
The two Democrats asked to serve on the panel, former Massachusetts governor Edward J. King and former House Agriculture Committee chairman W.R. (Bob) Poage of Texas, have opposed welfare or food programs. Poage declined to serve on the commission. Others expected to be named are: J. Clayburn LaForce Jr., dean UCLA's school of management; John Driggs, Republican former mayor of Phoenix; Sandra Smolley, a Republican member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors; John Perkins, a Mississippi clergyman; and Betsy Rollins, director of a Durham, N.C., soup kitchen, whose name Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) advanced.
Perkins, the only black in the group, wrote a 1976 book calling the welfare system "one of the most wasteful and destructive institutions created in recent history."
Driggs is board chairman of Second Harvest, a group that last year distributed 30 million tons of food to 45 food banks around the country. At its convention last May it passed a resolution calling on Reagan and Congress to "provide adequate funding to support food stamps, WIC and other federal feeding programs."
Yesterday Driggs said, "I don't come to the commission with a fixed position on federal programs."