With over one billion people suffering from hunger worldwide, it is clear that the United States and the international community need to act. The U.S. Congress can show leadership by supporting new legislation put forth by Reps. Jim McGovern (MA) and Jo Ann Emerson (MO). The bill, H.R. 2817, is known as the Roadmap to End Global Hunger.
The legislation would establish a global hunger advisor for President Obama. This is very important as hunger is a critical aspect of almost every foreign policy issue we face.
In Iraq, for instance, what if the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is unable to receive enough funding for a school lunch program for impoverished children? We would lose an important building block for that country if that WFP program does not receive the attention it deserves. There are many other examples — Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan — of how crucial food is for peace and progress. Just look at the recent refugee crisis in Pakistan and how hunger threatens stability in that country.
A global hunger advisor in the White House could coordinate U.S. policy and international cooperation to effectively meet the challenge of hunger around the globe. It would place the struggle against hunger right in the forefront of American foreign policy, where it belongs.
Recently, Bruce White, a food aid expert from Catholic Relief Services, took some time to talk about the Roadmap to End Global Hunger.
The Food and Agriculture Organization released a statement that over a billion people worldwide suffer from hunger. Can the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation solve this growing world hunger crisis?
The legislation is seen as one step in a larger plan. If passed and enacted into law, it would set up a White House Office on Hunger and a bicameral Select Committee on Hunger; this is part of the solution. Other necessary components are with the appropriations process and perhaps some additional authorization is also needed.
What would be the significance of creating a global hunger advisor to serve in the White House with President Obama? Do you believe this will elevate the fight against hunger in terms of foreign policy priorities?
Absolutely. The US currently has an office that addresses chronic hunger issues, the Office of Food for Peace, which is tucked inside the US Agency for International Development. The Office of Food for Peace manages many of the US food aid programs and has very little authority over cash resources. It has neither the authority nor the funding to adequately deal with the complexity of chronic hunger around the world, including all the related factors like engaging national governments on a wide range of issues: agriculture and nutrition policies, setting up better nutrition activities in US foreign assistance programs, making sure our own international agriculture and safety net programs are effectively reaching the poor.