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Remembering World War One Legacy When Fighting Global Hunger

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World War I officially ended recently with the final German reparation payment. The war left a legacy of widespread death and destruction, and it set in motion the chain of events leading to World War II. There is one legacy, though, of World War I that we do want to remain with us always—one of compassion.

American food aid saved millions of lives during and after the war, France being one of the countries that benefited from this generosity. Herbert Hoover wrote, “The exposure of the suffering of France at the Armistice deeply stirred the sympathy of the American people. At once there sprang into being a host of new voluntary charitable agencies…an epic of American compassion.”

 

 

American foreign policy is at its best when it looks overseas to stop hunger, malnutrition and suffering. This is a continuing epic of American compassion. This compassion is what we cannot lose today when once again food is at the top of our foreign policy agenda.

In Pakistan, the World Food Programme (WFP) recently warned that “a break in the food pipeline is expected from November for several commodities; and between November and December alone, a total of more than US $96 million is still needed to implement planned assistance.”

Millions of people in Pakistan are suffering from hunger as they are trying to recover from massive flooding. Before this tragedy many Pakistanis were in need of aid after being displaced by the conflict against the Taliban.

Afghanistan is also at risk because of low funding for WFP and the loss of supplies-in-transit from neighboring Pakistan. Sudan is another country where food is needed to reinforce the peace process.

Special emphasis is needed on child feeding in these crisis situations, as it was in the WWI era.  Colonel A.J Carlson upon his visit to Austria in 1919 described a school feeding program:

“The meals served average about six hundred fifty (650) calories per day. Our own officers, as well as the Austrian officials, report a marked improvement already in the children as a result of the feeding….fully eighty (80) per cent of the children fed are distinctly under-nourished. and an unusually high percentage of the children are stunted in growth.”

Today, we also cannot neglect child feeding in our foreign policy. This is certainly an issue right now, with the Senate deciding on what to fund in the foreign policy budget. The Senate can give a much-needed funding increase to the McGovern-Dole program that funds school meals in developing countries.

Hunger anywhere cannot be acceptable. Malnutrition among children is appalling. This must be the attitude of our leaders today when looking at the massive global hunger crisis. Our response today will be tomorrow’s chapter in the epic of American compassion.

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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.
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