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Congress Planning Food Aid Cuts as Global Hunger Crisis Escalates

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With nearly one billion people suffering from hunger worldwide, members of Congress are pushing for $544 million in cuts to international food aid. The World Food Program USA says the reductions would likely include cutting the Food for Peace program by about $450 million (from $1.7 billion to roughly $1.25 billion) and the McGovern-Dole International School Meals Program by about $100 million (from $210 million to roughly $100 million).

These cuts, which represent a tiny portion of the budget, would devastate America’s foreign policy goals. Already hunger relief missions in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, and other countries are facing dramatic funding shortages.

Hunger is on the march, as we saw in recent protests in Egypt where high food prices and malnutrition cause great suffering among the population.

Global hunger programs make up less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire U.S. budget. (chart courtesy of the World Food Program USA).

With such high rates of hunger and malnutrition, how do we expect peace, reconstruction, or economies to develop? Food is the foundation for all these things, but tragically the Congress does not emphasize this crucial aspect of our foreign policy.

Even without the cuts, the amounts spent on food aid are a relatively small expense. In 2008 for instance, the U.S. spent $52 billion on nuclear weapons-related programs, a figure which dwarfs any spending on food aid. Elise Foley of the Huffington Post reports that the new budget proposal actually includes “$312 million more for nuclear weapons infrastructure than 2010 funding.”

But no such increase is planned for international food aid programs in the latest House budget. The World Food Program USA released a statement yesterday urging “the House of Representatives to maintain the longstanding bipartisan support for our vital global hunger programs… Otherwise we will see more suffering, hunger, and loss of life among millions of the world’s poorest people, as well as increased unrest and instability across the developing world.”

Other organizations endorsing the statement include the Alliance to End Hunger, Bread for the World, CARE, the Congressional Hunger Center, Mercy Corps, the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, and World Vision.

Visit the World Food Program USA action alert page for contacting Congress.

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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.
  • Glenn Contrarian

    Why, William – don’t you know that you don’t end world hunger by feeding the poor and hungry? They’ll just want more food! You feed them by refusing to feed them so they’ll figure out how to make their own food appear out of thin air – after all, it worked for the Lost Boys in Peter Pan with neverfood, right?

    It’s just like the Republicans’ grand plan for American education – you don’t support education by providing funding for schools. You support education by cutting taxes and slashing spending for underperforming schools so they’ll fire teachers! And besides, kids learn a lot more when the schools cut music, art, and anything else that’s not readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmetic. Not only that, but by cutting taxes for the wealthy, the rich people can spend more on their overseas tax shelters – oops, I mean oversea resorts!

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Mr. Lambert, I know you ceaselessly campaign for the needs of the hungry, and as a Jew who knows a good deed when he sees one, it is nice to see that you do care.

    But apparently the country of your residence is going to undergo food shortages itself. This will happen no matter what the US Congress does or does not do. When these shortages will hit is hard to say, but it is apparent that they will hit this year sometime. The leadership of Sri Lanka is aware that there will be food shortage this year – which the government projects to start in April. Rising food prices are striking all over, and they are the sign of shortages.

  • http://www.usamaritime.org Bryant Gardner

    I believe the proposed cuts are now up to $800 million, or 42%, of US international food assistance. The $544 number was from the first round of proposed cuts.

  • kurt brigliadora

    I must say it is not fun ,when looking at the poorer nations on this planet starve their people…but I live in the USA and If we can help these people in any way , then I think we should,however if we can not… we need to help “our” people!

  • Prof. Gringo

    SIMPLY DISGUSTING!!!

    We can cut weapons spending or end SS payments to the rich, increse TARIFFS and protect US JOBS!

    Don’t slash US food-aid!

    Farmers lose out!

    Port workers lose out!

    US Merchant Mariners and US Shipping Companies LOSE OUT!!!

    Millions of poor-people all over the World LOSE OUT!!! They LOSE their LIVES!!!

  • Boeke

    This is the way humans are: we are afraid of our better impulses and react to our fears. It’s the fatal flaw in our natures and dooms us to extinction.

    Surely we will destroy ourselves.

    Perhaps a better life form will evolve when we are gone. But perhaps it doesn’t matter.

  • Clavos

    Surely we will destroy ourselves.

    Utinam.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Up With People

    Minime!!! And I don’t mean Verne Troyer.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/irene-athena Up With People

    …oh my gosh, a blast from your past….Up up with people, you meet ‘em where ever you go….up, up with people; they’re the best kind of folks you know. If MORE people were FOR people, people everywhere, there’d be a lot less people to worry about, and a lot more people who care.

  • Clavos

    UWP! Hadn’t thought about them for years, IA.

    Sorry, but even back then I thought their message, while certainly harmless, was hopelessly naive and unrealistic.

    Minime, eh? Videbimus.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    Why? Have you befriended anyone lately? And if so, have they remained strangers?

  • Zozobra

    Surely we will destroy ourselves.

    …isn’t it legitimate to claim that we already have (statistically speaking that is) by bringing our weapons of mass destruction into this universe of random error

    DOOMED

    UP IN SMOKE WITH PEOPLE