This year is the 4th Annual Vermont Foodbank Hunger Conference, titled “Understanding the Persistence of Hunger and Poverty.” There are so many public and private efforts to relieve hunger and poverty both in this country and around the world, yet the problems persist. In fact, it seems that hunger and poverty have always been with us.

We have done a great deal in this country to alleviate hunger. People rarely starve or suffer from severe malnutrition but a large number of people, more than 49 million according to the USDA, are “food insecure,” meaning that they don’t have enough food to live a healthy, active lifestyle. There are programs: SNAP, CSFP, CACFP, SFSP, WIC, school breakfast and lunch, TANF and others that provide benefits to purchase food or directly feed people in need. What is missing?

That is what we will explore on April 27th at the Sheraton in Burlington. The morning session will be for the people who operate food shelves, feeding sites, shelters, child care centers and senior programs—for network partners of the Vermont Foodbank. We will participate in an abbreviated version of the “Bridges out of Poverty” program that provides insight into the challenges of living in poverty and perspective on the choices people in poverty have to make and the reasons certain choices are made.

The public is invited to join us for lunch with keynote speaker Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America?. Joel is a provocative speaker, with strong ideas about how this country can actually end hunger and why we haven’t done it yet. The general public is invited to stay and attend afternoon session featuring Mr. Berg and others.

I look forward to the discussions that will come out of the mixing the perspectives of those in poverty with a policy plan to end hunger. Mashing the different perspectives together might get everyone off kilter enough that we come up with some unique and innovative ideas. It will be especially exciting to have the general public in the mix with what I suspect will be some different ideas about hunger and poverty and how to address the problems.

Please join us. For more information or to register visit the Vermont Foodbank website,