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An Anniversary in the Fight Against Global Hunger

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On October 5, 1947 the first presidential address ever televised from the White House was delivered by Harry Truman, concerning the struggle against hunger in Europe and food conservation. At that time Europe was struggling in its recovery from World War II. Rebuilding from the devastation was difficult enough but a harsh winter followed by a drought during 1947 ruined crops. Food shortages were rampant and Europe needed food to survive and rebuild.

President Truman said of Europe, "Their most urgent need is food. If the peace should be lost because we failed to share our food with hungry people there would be no more tragic example in all history of a peace needlessly lost." Food from the United States helped Europe get through the winter of 1947-1948 and helped set the foundation for the Marshall Plan.

In addition to President Truman, other speakers for the program included Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Commerce W. Averell Harriman, and Charles Luckman, who was the Chairman of the Citizens Food Committee.

Much can be learned from this episode in history and applied to today's struggles in countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq. Food is absolutely critical for peace and reconstruction.

Leadership from the highest levels of government is also needed in the fight against hunger. We saw this recently from Secretary Hillary Clinton at a recent food summit. This is a welcome start but much more needs to be done including Congress passing the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation. The situation is urgent, with the United Nations World Food Programme reporting a three billion dollar shortfall in funding.

Read the full text of President Truman's October 5, 1947 statement.

Listen to George Marshall's remarks on October 5, 1947.

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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.
  • Everyone should have food.
    Everyone should have a home.
    Everyone should have work.
    Everyone should have medical care.
    Everyone should have safety.

    Your government prevents these things because it is a system designed to protect those with wealth, create a non-existent scarcity to bolster consumption, and promote domination and competition across the world and between individuals.

    There is no scarcity. There is enough to go around. If you want to solve the problem of hunger, homelessness, and end the illusion of scarcity, I recommend rethinking your support for the system that creates these things.

    A profit system wastes resources and human life. How many different versions of everything do we need? Does the world require as much time spent in labor as it once did? Who decided how many hours a workweek should be? What if spending that many hours does nothing more than waste your life, waste natural resources, and add to environmental destruction?

    Why are people so eager to protect the continuation of a system they didn’t not start and had no say in? One which virtually holds them as willing prisoners. Is there any other way?

  • muxin

    To leave someone in hunger when we know we can help is a crime, hunger is something that we all must stand against. it’s not only the obligation of every goverments or any social services, but it should become a concern of anybody in the world.