(Host) Senator Bernie Sanders says poor Americans have suddenly found themselves in a more desperate situation.
He says federal policy needs to change on such things as housing, heating assistance and food aid.
(Sanders) “The bottom line is: This is the United States of America. People in America should not be worried about staying warm in the wintertime. People in America should not have to worry about whether they have enough food for their kids. And people in America should not be worrying whether or not they have a roof over their heads.”
(Host) Sanders says he hopes to tackle some of those issues when he returns to Washington.
He plans to offer an amendment that would pump an additional 800 million dollars into the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
He says that would help people deal with heating fuel prices that now average more than three dollars and 30 cents a gallon in Vermont.
Sanders also says provisions in the national Farm Bill would help people who are seeking assistance from food shelves.
And, he also is working with a senator from Ohio to put another 40 million dollars in an emergency food assistance program.
Hal Cohen of Central Vermont Community Action says the food aid is vitally important.
(Cohen) “First they’ll pay for their housing to make sure that they’re not out in the streets. They’ll pay to keep up their car so then can get work. They’ll even take care of their health so that they’re able to work. But the place that they skimp is around food.”
(Host) Cohen says the difficulties among the poor are showing up in a number of ways.
He says there are more people seeking emergency assistance to heat their homes. And others are asking for help just to stay in their homes.
But the pressures are too much for many families and the number of people without a place to live has grown dramatically.