Congressman James P. McGovern criticized the United States government for its “lack of political will” to solve the hunger crisis in a speech delivered to students, faculty and alumni at the Moakley Breakfast Series event “Challenging Poverty and Hunger: The Road to Health and Nutrition.

The Moakley Breakfast Series is designed to carry on the late Massachusetts congressman's legacy of public service by providing a forum for federal, state, and municipal leaders to address key public policy issues.

“It is a toxic climate for people who are living in poverty because our government isn’t stepping up to the plate,” said McGovern, the Democratic representative for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus and a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

He believes the United States should be ashamed of the number of people who go to bed hungry every night.

“Fifty million people and seventeen million children in the United States are food insecure; hunger is real,” he said. “There is not a city or town that is hunger free, nor is there a food shelter that isn’t at capacity.

“Hunger has consequences. It is adding to our country’s deficit.”

The Congressman noted that $167.5 billion was spent last year on health care costs to treat malnourished people living in poverty.

He also voiced his opinion on the government taking money from the Food Stamp program to fund other programs. “Why is it okay to borrow money to fight war, but then we can’t find money to make sure people in our own country are not hungry,” he said.

McGovern went on to say that it is not only the government’s responsibility to solve hunger, but that everyone should get involved. His advice to students was “push the issue of hunger and think creatively.”

He added, “As Joe Moakley once said, ‘Figure out what you believe in and go fight for it.’”

The Moakley Breakfast Series is presented by the Suffolk University Sawyer Business School’s Institute for Public Service, the Center for Public Management and the Moakley Foundation.