Senator Debbie Stabenow and Senator John Boozman to Receive 2024 Hunger Leadership Awards


The Congressional Hunger Center is pleased to announce the recipients of our Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Hunger Leadership Awards at this year’s Hunger Leadership Awards Ceremony on June 12.

“We are honored to recognize two leaders from the Senate for their steadfast leadership in making real progress toward ending hunger,” said Executive Director Shannon Maynard. “They are living examples of the practical, bipartisan approach exemplified by our Congressional leading lights Mickey Leland and Bill Emerson, and of what can come with sustained effort and the determination to make things better for hungry people.”

Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Lifetime Achievement Hunger Leadership Award

Senator Debbie Stabenow

The Lifetime Achievement award is presented to individuals who have dedicated their lives and careers to promoting food and nutrition security, and who have made lasting contributions toward that goal. This year we honor Senator Debbie Stabenow for her longstanding commitment to ending hunger and her skill at building bipartisan coalitions to support practical policy solutions.

After serving in the Michigan State Legislature, Debbie Stabenow was first elected to Congress in 1996 as a Representative from Michigan’s Eight District. She was elected to the Senate in 2000, becoming the first female Senator in Michigan’s history, and has been re-elected to three further terms.

Her Senate career has been marked by a strong support for effective solutions to food security. “Freedom from hunger is a basic right for all humans,” she said at the opening of a 2015 hearing on Global Hunger. “And those of us in agriculture have a commitment to upholding that covenant.”

Her roles as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee, beginning in the 112th Congress, have been marked by a commitment to bipartisan leadership, exemplified by her strong working relationships with her Republican counterparts in leadership, Senator Pat Roberts and Senator John Boozman. The 2018 Farm Bill which Senator Stabenow co-authored was the most bipartisan farm bill on record, passing 86-11. The bill preserved vital assistance programs for people experiencing food insecurity in the U.S. and globally while increasing support for local food economies, including expansion of the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP). GusNIP funds projects that provide low-income consumers financial incentives to add more fruits and vegetables to their diets. A 2023 impact report from NIFA concluded that in its third year of implementation, GusNIP reduced food insecurity, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, and created $85 million in local economic impact1.

Most recently, Senator Stabenow has also been instrumental, along with Senator John Boozman, in securing permanent funding for nationwide summer EBT to provide grocery-buying assistance for children who lose access to meals during the summer. This summer 35 states, along with five territories and four Tribal nations will administer $2.5 Billion in benefits for an estimated 21 million children.

Senator Stabenow’s dedication to public service has kept her focused on the long-term goal of a hunger-free future. “As long as we have hunger and food insecurity in America, we have work to do,” she said in 2022, “And as Chairwoman, I’m confident that the strong anti-hunger and nutrition framework we’ve built can help to tackle it.” As she prepares to retire from the Senate at the end of the 118th Congress, we recognize Senator Stabenow for the inspirational example she has set for future leaders who will carry on the work of ending hunger in the U.S. and around the world.

Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Hunger Leadership Award

Senator Boozman

Senator John Boozman

The Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Hunger Leadership Award is presented to Members of Congress and Administration officials who have created substantial progress in the fight to end hunger within the past year. This year, the Hunger Center honors Senator John Boozman for his leadership and support of innovative approaches to address food security both domestically and globally.

Senator Boozman has been a longtime supporter for modernizing and increasing flexibility for school meal programs to better serve children in rural areas, where the requirement for congregate meal distribution is a barrier to participation. For the past decade, he has authored and introduced several acts to allow for summer meal benefits to be distributed by EBT or by non-congregate methods. This perspective received widespread attention when innovative adaptations borne of the COVID-19 pandemic were shown to improve access to school meals: “The flexibilities Congress granted during the pandemic offer a good recipe for how to successfully serve more children in need,” he said in 2021. “We want to ensure that all options—from off-site, grab-and-go models, to home delivery, to electronic benefits transfer—remain on the table.” His continued advocacy bore fruit this past year, as Congress expanded summer EBT from a series of pilots to a permanent nationwide program.

Senator Boozman was also part of a bipartisan effort to tackle the global hunger crisis by co-introducing the Foundation for International Food Security Act. Introduced in November 2023, the act would stand up an independent agency under the Department of State and USDA to channel private sector funds and resources to improve food systems in a focused group of countries. According to Senator Boozman, “Escalating conflicts, food inaccessibility and increases prices are fueling a global hunger crisis. This is a humanitarian emergency that needs an innovative approach to deliver help to children and families most in need.” This foundation has received support from many legislative and nonprofit staff as a possible complement to government funded programs.

Senator Boozman was first elected to Congress as a Representative for Arkansas’s Third District in 2001, and was elected as Senator from Arkansas in 2010. Beginning in the 117th Congress, Senator Boozman has served as Ranking Member of the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry alongside this year’s other Congressional Awardee, Senator Stabenow. He also serves as the dean of Arkansas’ Congressional Delegation. We are honored to present this award to Senator Boozman in recognition for his continued engagement with food security and improving the lives of the most vulnerable in the U.S. and around the world.

About the Congressional Hunger Center

Founded in 1993 by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress, the Congressional Hunger Center fights hunger by developing leaders and advocating for public policies that will create a food-secure world. Through our Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, Mickey Leland International Hunger Fellowship, Zero Hunger Internship, and online learning hub Zero Hunger Academy, the Hunger Center has trained thousands of leaders working across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors toward a day when all people have access to affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food.

About the Hunger Leadership Awards

The annual Hunger Leadership Awards bring together representatives from government, philanthropy, the private sector, and the wider anti-hunger community to recognize distinguished leaders who are working together toward a hunger-free future. This year’s Hunger Leadership Awards will be held on Wednesday, June 12, in Washington, D.C.

Senators Stabenow and Boozman will receive their awards alongside Corporate Partner Award recipient Kraft Heinz, Community Champion Award recipient Idaho Hunger Relief Task Force, Outstanding Alum Hunger Leadership Award recipient Robert Campbell and Rising Star Alum Award recipient Bryan Pride, announced earlier this month.

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