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President Clinton Praises School Feeding for Haiti

Former President Bill Clinton was in Haiti last week as part of his ongoing efforts to help the earthquake-devastated country rebuild. Stephanie Tremblay, a UN World Food Programme (WFP) officer, interviewed him about the vital role of school feeding in the reconstruction process.

Clinton emphasized that school meals are the best and sometimes the only meal that many impoverished Haitian children get all day. The food is a nutrition lifeline and allows them a chance to get an education.

In the interview Clinton mentions an international school meals plan that was started in his last year in office. This is the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, named after former senators George McGovern and Robert Dole.

The McGovern-Dole program funds school feeding programs in developing countries and Haiti is currently one of the beneficiaries. And as Clinton says, when there are school meals provided, it makes a big difference in terms of nutrition and education.

McGovern-Dole has not received much funding in recent years. However, the program was recently spared during the round of budget cuts just approved by Congress. It had been previously slated for a cut. In the age of ever-increasing partisan politics, McGovern-Dole is an area where both political parties can meet and agree.

The potential for what McGovern-Dole can achieve is enormous, if it only could get the political will behind it. In Haiti, McGovern-Dole funding is helping the UN World Food Programme feed over a million children. This can be the beginning of building a national school lunch program.

In Afghanistan, World Vision has run a successful school meals program in two provinces. In Kenya, McGovern-Dole is playing a leading role in supporting children not yet covered by the country’s homegrown feeding program.

Why not expand these efforts to reach more children and more countries? It’s a relatively inexpensive program and food for education is a winner on many levels.

Working with the international community, the U.S. can spearhead a plan for all children in every country to receive a school meal. This is the type of global initiative well within reach. There is an old adage: less is more. Well, for McGovern-Dole and school meals, it’s a case of more is more.

There are things you can do right now to get involved. For instance, visit the game Free Rice which is currently supporting school feeding in Haiti. Also, if you are shopping for a gift, check out the FEED Haiti bag which also supports school meals. We Feedback has just been launched; it will be supporting school feeding in different countries where WFP operates.

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.