Recently, first lady Michelle Obama has highlighted childhood obesity in the United States. A group of retired military leaders, citing the potential effect on future soldiers, call the obesity crisis a national security threat.
Let's not forget though about the children in developing countries and even here at home who struggle to get even one meal a day. While childhood obesity is a serious problem that needs to be dealt with, the first thrust needs to be on the children who lack food.
Global child hunger is a threat to our national security. Malnourished children are never a foundation for world peace and stability.
Look at Afghanistan, where there are 600,000 street children, according to the Aschiana Foundation. These children are not getting enough to eat. They are not in school getting an education. Instead, they have to forage and beg for their families. All children in Afghanistan should be able to take part in Food for Education programs. Insufficient funding prevents this from happening.
In Yemen, another country high on U.S. national security priorities, malnourishment and poverty afflict many children. Food for education programs and infant feeding all have faced cuts because of low funding for the World Food Programme (WFP).
In Iraq, WFP was forced to drastically reduce a school feeding program intended for 960,000 children because of lack of funds.This scene is repeated in many other countries since child feeding is given so little emphasis in our national security strategy. And this is a huge mistake.
There was a time after World War II when the alarm would be sounded if child feeding was found to be deficient in a given country. Faced with the problem of restoring war-devastated Europe and Asia, child feeding formed an important part of U.S. foreign policy.
If you had a time machine, you could parade a number of decorated generals before the Senate touting child feeding as a vital part of foreign policy. General Douglas MacArthur would talk about school feeding in Japan. General Mark Clark could discuss school meals in Austria and General Lucius Clay would praise school feeding's role in the rehabilitation of Germany.