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Congress to Consider Food Aid Programs

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Two international development initiatives, Food for Progress and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program are up for reauthorization before Congress.

Food for Progress supports countries trying to build free enterprise systems. This is not a well-known program but it does help charities such as FINCA. (Foundation for International Community Assistance)

FINCA gives loans to low-income individuals in impoverished countries so that they may start their own businesses. Food for Progress donates wheat to FINCA, who then sells the food within nations like Uganda and Zambia. The proceeds from the sales are used to help fund the village bank loans.

But many charities who apply for Food for Progress commodities are denied. According to Ellen Levinson of the Alliance for Food Aid, “Many poor, developing countries are undergoing economic reform and, therefore, the demand for Food for Progress programs is great.” By allocating more agricultural commodities to Food for Progress, Congress can support economic growth overseas, a requirement for building stability and peace.

Catholic Relief Services has just applied for Food for Progress funding to institute a project that would include building roads in Afghanistan. It is critical to connect all sectors of a developing economy, particularly farmers and markets. The food can potentially be used as an incentive to Afghans constructing the roads.

The McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program provides school meals to children in impoverished countries like Afghanistan, Kenya and Guatemala. (also see this previous article) Charities such as CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Food for the Poor, and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) carry out the distribution of the meals. The meals serve as an incentive for kids to attend school and the program has been very successful in this regard. Many kids in poor countries struggle to get one good meal a day so this program is a life-changing event for them. Take-home rations are also included. Currently, McGovern-Dole reaches about 3 million children but worldwide 110 million school age children suffer from hunger.

The Friends of the UN World Food Program is leading the effort to expand the McGovern-Dole initiative. There is a House Bill (HR. 1616) and a Senate version (S.946) that aim to make annual McGovern-Dole funding mandatory, increasing from 100 million to 300 million over the next five years. However, the House Agriculture Committee recently voted to make McGovern-Dole funding discretionary rather than mandatory. In other words, there is no certainty that McGovern-Dole funding will be increased from year to year thus leaving many school feeding programs in jeopardy. There should be debate on both McGovern-Dole and Food for Progress when Congress takes up the Farm Bill this week.

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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.
  • moonraven

    I agree with expanding the food aid.

    But what does this article really tell us that your previous article didn’t?

  • If the democrats are in any way more responsible than the republicans have been they will immediately unfund these two programs. They’re nothing but an artificial way to funnel money to agrobusiness on one end and to dictators and tyrants on the other end.


  • Nancy

    I have to agree with Dave, in that I have concluded that most if not all food aid programs are a waste of money & resources, since the proceeds almost never reach those in need, but go instead to line the pockets of corrupt leaders, warlords, & various insurgents. Why continue throwing good money & food down ratholes?

  • moonraven

    Because at the bottom of those ratholes are starving people.

    I would rather look like a fool than a skinflint.

    You two would make Scrooge look like the president of the Bill Gates foundation.

  • Zedd


    “They’re nothing but an artificial way to funnel money to agrobusiness on one end and to dictators and tyrants on the other end.”

    Prove it.

    You see its nice for you to post from your beautiful home on your computer(s) in air conditioning with your kid in private school and your other lavish luxuries, talking about food aid being denied to people how have NOTHING. People who love their kids just like you do, who happened to be born in a country that is not able to sustain them (for what ever reason Dave). Watch your daughter die because of no food, no soup kitchen, no vegetation or even vermin to eat, nothing and lets see you make reckless statements that you have no proof of who’s affects will devastate so many. SHAME! Why are you here. I mean really why are you taking up space? Is it just so you can pop off at the mouth to express your feelings entitled now and then? Why do you exist? Whats the point if you have such a cold heart?

  • moonraven

    Glad to see another woman with balls on this site.

  • Nancy

    You both ignore the fact that none of this food reaches those unfortunate, starving people. If it did, I’d gladly double the donation; but it doesn’t. It goes to fund thugs like the late Idi Amin, or similar vermin like the gangs in Darfur, who in turn continue to prey on those same poor souls they stole the food from in the first place.

    I have no problem with sending any amount of aid, as long as we send along security to make SURE it gets to the people who actually need it, & not the assholes who currently steal it.

  • moonraven

    Fine–tell your congresspeople to budget in security staff to see that it gets there.

    The reality of all this is that the aid is never about REALLY helping people who need food.

    It is about looking like the Good Guy.

    It is about buying “allies”.

    It is about staking out neocolonial territory.

    It is about interfering in other countries’ internal affairs–with CIA agents passing themselves off as aid workers.

    And at its most cynical, it is about showing off–showing the world that the richest country can afford to waste all that food and doesn’t give a flying fuck whether starving folks receive it or not.

  • Zedd


    There are hundreds of really productive programs all over the globe.

    I understand your concern. However we KNOW what works and what doesn’t. This food would be going to the programs that work and get to the people. There are millions of people in refugee camps, in countries that cant sustain them. These people have left the thug run nations and simply NEED help asap. Even if only 75% of the food aid actually got to the people, it is a worthwhile investment by people who throw away good food on a daily bases because they simply don’t want it.

  • Zedd


    Take drought, for example. There have been droughts periodically for thousands of years. And while they have sometimes been deadly, the communities involved have generally been able to absorb that shock, restructure their livelihoods, and then begin to grow again.

    But now, droughts in Africa appear to be more frequent. Where they used to come once every ten or twenty years, they have recently begun appearing several times in a ten-year period, and more recently still, to possibly as little as every two or three years. With that level of frequency, a community’s full recovery from a drought is difficult at best. In many cases, herders’ animals die and the herder sells still more animals for food, further shrinking the herd. A farmer who loses his crop and food supply may sell his hoes and harrows for food, and then hope to find seed to begin again. Each successive drought may find many communities increasingly characterized by a deeper and more widespread poverty, deteriorating landscapes, drying lakes and rivers, an ever poorer agricultural base, no market to sell to or buy from, hampered further by poor governance and governmental policies. – William Hammink
    Director, Office of Food for Peace, USAID

    It is suggested that the increases in drought conditions is linked to the global warming phenomenon. We have been the greatest and longest contributors of this affect. These people reap the “benefits” of our lifestyles. While other factors such as bad governance, war and disease also affect their situation, our contributions have had a LARGE impact on their quality of life.

  • moonraven

    Even if only 5%!

  • Clavos

    Following is an excerpt from an article in The Weekly Standard on the occasion of Dr. Norman Borlaug being awarded the USA’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.

    Dr.Borlaug has done more than any other living human being to alleviate hunger worldwide. Thanks to his efforts, the world enjoyed a 150% increase in its grain yield between the years of 1950 to 1992.

    The article’s author, Henry I. Miller, notes,

    “As gratifying as it is to see Borlaug’s great humanitarian achievement receive such well-deserved recognition, the sad fact is his ideas are under assault as never before. Barely a month before, former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan was picked to head a new group that pledges to achieve a “green revolution” in Africa. Despite its name, though, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa rejects proven and pivotal approaches to crop science. Alas, Annan’s group is being handsomely bankrolled by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates’s $30 billion foundation. If past performance is any indication, the only things likely to become greener are the numbered bank accounts of Kofi Annan and his cronies.

    The contrast between Borlaug and Annan could hardly be greater. Borlaug is modest, earnest, and self-effacing, while Annan is arrogant and hubristic.”

    And goes on:

    “During Annan’s tenure, the U.N. waged war on the most precise, predictable, and effective techniques to advance agriculture. Judged by integrity, managerial competence, or acumen, Annan is eminently unqualified for his new position. Bill Gates might ask himself how he would feel if Annan tried to deny computers to Africans–and called instead for relying on tally sticks and other traditional calculating tools. Or how Africans would like it if Annan decreed that they should farm without tractors. Similar to resolving a glitch with Windows, the Gates Foundation should reboot–or, more precisely, give Kofi Annan the boot. And for its African agricultural initiative, it should seek a Norman Borlaug.”

    Dr. Borlaug has long been one of my heroes. I had the good fortune of getting to know him quite well during my adolescence, as his daughter was part of the crowd I hung around with, and I was always welcomed warmly into their home.

    He is, in my judgment, the greatest American of the Twentieth Century, and perhaps one of the greatest in our history.

  • moonraven

    Name dropping again, clavos?

    What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  • Zedd


    If past performance is any indication, the only things likely to become greener are the numbered bank accounts of Kofi Annan and his cronies.

    This article is merely one individuals opinion of Annan which I strongly disagree with. He has provided no proof that Annan is inept. This man lead the UN during it’s most difficult time, largely caused by the US and Bush’s bullying, derailing attempts at manipulation. Certainly maintaining this great world body under such times would more than qualify ANY human being walking this earth to such a post.

    The biggest assault on Africa and Africans since precolonial time has been pessimism.

  • Clavos

    “He has provided no proof that Annan is inept.”

    Ineptitude is the LEAST of Annan’s sins, Zedd.

    The man is a CROOK.

  • REMF

    “He is, in my judgment, the greatest American of the Twentieth Century, and perhaps one of the greatest in our history.”

    No way. Everybody knows that Muhammad Ali was the greatest of all time.

  • moonraven

    REMF– I will vote with you on that!

    clavos now accuses Kofi Annan of being a crook–providing no evidence, as ALWAYS.

    He sees so many crooks under his army cot that it is logical to assume that HE is the crook.

    More information than I wanted to know, but what the hell….

  • the greatest American of the Twentieth Century

    I’m still sticking with Martin Luther King, but hey! That’s just me. 🙂

  • moonraven


    You didn’t get it.

    Suspect you are under 30….