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Top Chef star urges Congress to support anti-hunger programs

The star of cable TV’s “Top Chef” visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to promote federal anti-hunger programs in advance of Congress beginning work on a new farm bill.

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio joined with Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) to headline a screening of the documentary “A Place at the Table” at the Rayburn House Office Building and met with members of Congress to encourage funding to fight hunger, according to a press release from promoters.

Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 1.03.50 AM (Courtesy Magnolia Pictures)

report last year from the U.S. Department of Agriculture said nearly 15 percent of Americans were “food insecure” in 2011, meaning they did not always have money for nutrition. “A Place at the Table,” which features Academy Award-winning actor Jeff Bridges and Colicchio, examines that and other issues relating to hunger in the U.S.

The farm bill sets policy for agricultural subsidies and rural-development programs. It also includes funding for anti-poverty programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food credits for low- and no-income Americans — the program was previously known as the food stamp program.

Congress’s agriculture committees plan to begin work next week on a new farm bill that would trim funding for SNAP. The Senate plans to propose a reduction of $400 million, while the House committee will call for an overhaul of the program and a cut of $2 billion, according to an Associated Press report.

Federal costs for the food-credit program reached $72 billion in 2011, more than double the amount for 2007, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Critics note that the growth largely occurred after President Obama expanded the program through an economic-stimulus bill in 2009.

The Senate agriculture committee will begin its markup proceedings with a meeting next Tuesday. A similar session was not listed on the Web site for the counterpart House committee.

 

For more federal news, visit The Federal Eye, The Fed Page and Post Politics. To connect with Josh Hicks, follow his Twitter feed, subscribe to his Facebook page or e-mail josh.hicks@washpost.comE-mail federalworker@washpost.com with news tips and other suggestions.

Josh Hicks covers Maryland politics and government. He previously anchored the Post’s Federal Eye blog, focusing on federal accountability and workforce issues.

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