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President Obama, Global Hunger, and the Christmas Before the Marshall Plan

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As the holidays approach, President Obama and his administration see a world where more than one billion people are suffering from hunger. If you go to the State Department's food security web site, you will see a detailed plan for tackling this world crisis.

The Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative document calls for a global hunger coordinator to work with President Obama. Why? The State Department explains, "Coordination will be improved among U.S. government agencies through a whole-of-government strategy led by a U.S. Global Food Security Coordinator."

Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Friends of the World Food Program, and over 20 other charities support this idea. In fact, the concept is a key part of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation currently in Congress.

But so far, Congress has not moved on this legislation and President Obama has no global hunger advisor. History shows how critical it is for a food crisis to be at the top of an administration's foreign policy agenda.

For instance, what was the Truman administration working on during the holiday season of 1947? Truman's Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs was hard at work figuring out just how much food the U.S. could send overseas to Europe to feed the hungry. Europe was struggling to rebuild after World War II and the Marshall Plan, which would ultimately bring about the recovery, was still being put together.

In this critical period before the Marshall Plan, Austria, Italy, and France were in desperate need of help for the coming winter. In late 1947 an interim aid package was put together to send food and other vital supplies to these three countries. Keep in mind that other war-torn countries were also receiving aid at this time.

The Cabinet Committee on Food submitted its findings to President Truman on December 26, 1947. Tens of millions of bushels of wheat would be available for the interim aid program. We know the rest of the story. The Marshall Plan, with its foundation of food, helped to rebuild Europe from the most devastating war in history.

Today, there are new struggles for peace and food will once again play a critical role. In Afghanistan food and agriculture will be key for bringing peace to the country. In Iraq there is the need to build universal school feeding, expanding on the effort started by the UN World Food Programme. In Haiti food shortages loom in 2010 if the U.S. and the international community do not act. There are also Sudan, Ethiopia and many other nations in need of help.

But right now, no global hunger coordinator resides in the White House to tackle these difficult issues. If the Congress does not move on the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation, it will harm U.S. foreign policy at this critical juncture.

President Obama has pledged to fight hunger. The State Department Food Security plan is detailed and sound. But words need to be put into action.

Download a take-action flyer to contact your representative in Congress about supporting the Roadmap to End Global Hunger.

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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.
  • Christine

    And we have the great “community organizer”! Looks like Obama and his administration are slacking on this one. What a shame.