On the day of my final presentation in a graduate course at the College of Mount St. Joseph, I brought along a special guest. It was someone almost everyone who watches TV knows.
At the end of the presentation, I unleashed the mystery guest and he said just three words to the class: Aflac, Aflac, AFLAC…It was the Aflac Duck, toy version. I got an A on my project. The professor also gave the duck an A. The semester ended successfully for all!
The whole purpose of the duck’s existence is to get across the message of Aflac, the supplemental insurance company. The poor duck often finds it frustrating, but he is persistent. For the duck, it’s about three things: repetition, repetition, repetition. It works: people who never heard of Aflac before, like me, now know something about them.
The same tactics used by the duck are desperately needed in the struggle to end global hunger. Food ambassadors at all levels must do what columnist Roger Thurow said: “make sure no one forgets” about global hunger. A food ambassador, or hunger envoy, should “remind everyone that there is plenty of work yet to be done to end the chronic hunger that burdens one billion people in the world today.”
Truer words were never spoken, since the greatest threat to peace and stability that currently exists is global hunger. The recent food and humanitarian crisis in Pakistan is another horrific example of this. The World Food Programme says at least six million Pakistanis are in need of food aid.
But hunger is not on the radar of the government, the media, or the public consciousness. It’s getting there, but more needs to be done. There should be a food ambassador at the cabinet level of the White House to lead the U.S. response to hunger. This position was called for in the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation which is languishing in Congress. This ambassador would help build international cooperation in tackling hunger.
The message of hunger and food for peace must be stressed over and over again, whether it’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, or Haiti. It’s all about repetition, repetition, repetition. History shows it works.
Preaching against slavery before the Civil War, the Reverend Owen Lovejoy said, “I shall preach this doctrine till you like it and then I shall preach it because you like it.”
The global hunger struggle, too, is all about repetition. Get the message out about lands far away from U.S. shores where people struggle to find even one meal a day; where massive floods, drought, or conflict have caused food shortages; where lack of food causes malnutrition that stunts growth in children. Then repeat the message.
Not only do citizens and leaders need to be aware of the problems, they should hear potential solutions. Get ideas out there into the mix until the right formula can be found to end hunger in any given country. With enough dedication, hunger can be beaten.
Food ambassadors are needed at all levels, whether it’s Bloggers Against Hunger or the much-needed food ambassador at the White House cabinet level.
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