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A Cup of UNICEF Can Change the World

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The next time you go into a grocery store to buy milk, you could call it a carton of UNICEF. Sounds a bit strange? Actually, children in Europe after World War II would sometimes refer to milk as a "cup of UNICEF."

UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, came about because children in the war-torn countries were in desperate need of food. The war caused such great destruction, many basic items like milk were in short supply.

This crisis received top-level attention from the U.S. government. In 1946 President Harry Truman dispatched a team led by Herbert Hoover to help the countries in ruin. Their trip, and seeing the needs of hungry children, helped to inspire the creation of UNICEF.

Children in war-torn Europe were in desperate need of food. UNICEF and other organizations came to their aid. The cries of hungry children across the globe cannot be forgotten today. (National Archives photo)

Supplying milk to children was one of the earliest tasks of this new agency for children. Not only did they supply milk, they also helped to rebuild the dairy industry in Europe so it could become self-sufficient. It's important to remember this period in the history of peacemaking and humanitarianism that emerged after the war. It changed the world from one of chaos to one of hope and progress.

Today, we need to reinvest in the principles which led to the creation of UNICEF. There are millions of children in Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, and other countries who struggle to find food each day. These hungry children are not learning about math, science, or conflict resolution, but instead toiling in tremendous hardship very early in life.

For the smallest of children, lack of food can cause severe lasting physical and mental damage. School-age children who are malnourished not only suffer healthwise, but lose the foundation of their future, which is their education. If we turn our backs on the needs of children around the world, we do grave injustice to our humanitarian traditions, and we forge a disastrous foreign policy.

In collaboration with our allies, the United States should lead an increase in funding for child feeding programs by UNICEF, the World Food Programme and other organizations. The upcoming G-8 summit in Canada offers an opportunity to take strong action. The charity Save the Children is right when they say that the lives of millions of children are on the line at this upcoming summit.

The resources exist to feed hungry children; what is needed is the will and the leadership of the U.S. to lead the international community and take action.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.
  • http://www.redwebzine.org Jeffrey Hillard

    William Lambers continues to be one of our country’s most astute advocates toward battling world hunger. It’s imperative that we take UNICEF as seriously now as people did in 1946-47.

    I urge readers to understand why Mr. Lambers’ frontline fight against world hunger is making a difference by visiting his website.

    My web magazine, RED! the breakthrough ‘zine, has interviewed him at length on what’s happening on the World Food Programme frontier.