A famous World War II slogan was, “Food will win the war and write the peace.” Today, the House of Representatives, with its budget proposal, has a new take on this slogan: No food. The House is planning over $800 million in cuts to international food aid programs.
Richard Leach, of the World Food Program USA, said, “Never before have I seen Congress propose these kinds of budget cuts to life-saving global hunger programs. Never.” The food aid reductions will slash the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole international school meals programs, all this with a global hunger crisis afflicting nearly one billion people worldwide.
Even without budget cuts, food aid programs are not given much funding, relatively speaking. In a given year, the U.S. might spend a few billion on food aid. Compare that to the cost of a post-cold war nuclear weapons program which was estimated at $52 billion in 2008 alone.
So the House is essentially making deep cuts to an already underfunded branch of our foreign policy. The consequences will be devastating. Food is the foundation of peace, as we found out following World War II with the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.
Look at the international challenges we face. How do we build peace and stability in conflict-torn Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Iraq, or Yemen? This will not happen if these nations suffer food insecurity, high infant malnutrition rates, and lack of food for education programs. How do we expect Haiti to rebuild and prosper without food for its people?
The cuts proposed by the House are being proposed with little thought to our own national security strategy. Lawmakers need to go back to the drawing board and start over. Cutting international food aid will do very little for fixing the deficit, but will have grave consequences to our national security.
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