Siegfried Deutsch loved music. It brought tears to his eyes listening to great symphonies on the radio in his apartment in Cincinnati, Ohio. Deutsch was from Austria and he was thinking of his friends who could not escape the country torn by World War II.
It was 1946, eight years after Deutsch had been forced to flee his homeland. Nazi Germany was defeated, but hunger was now the main enemy. Deutsch said, “hunger is the most cruel enemy of mankind.”
Cincinnati newspapers reported how Deutsch took action with CARE. He bought the famous CARE food packages and sent them on to Europe. Because of the food received from Deutsch, a professor in Austria was able to keep working. An impoverished mother and child in Vienna got some much-needed help from another delivery. Others in Belgium, Norway, Italy and France also received parcels. Deutsch’s contribution to Europe’s recovery from the war totaled more than 35 packages.
The CARE packages of that time were from U.S. Army surplus food. They could be purchased and forwarded to addresses in countries that were struggling with food shortages after World War II.
CARE packages were really a symbol of friendship, peace and hope. In fact, so engrained was this food for peace concept that a report to President Truman read: “There is no need to review here the place of adequate food supplies as a foundation stone in building a stable structure of economic and political rehabilitation. We must send every pound of food that it is practical to ship to these countries of greatest need. There can be no disagreement on this basic purpose.”
We desperately need this type of approach today, for there are near-record numbers of hungry people worldwide and food prices are rising. In Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and many other countries, people are suffering from malnutrition.
Hunger relief efforts by the UN World Food Programme and other agencies are often left with inadequate funding. The capability exists to reduce the hunger threat facing the globe, but the political will is not there. This has to change if we are to seek peace.
The tradition of the CARE package continues in many ways today. In fact, the US Army runs Operation CARE in Afghanistan to bring supplies to impoverished families. Relying on donations from the American people, ”Operation Care works to ensure the future of a free and democratic Afghanistan, and to provide a secure, peaceful, and nurturing environment for its children.” It offers a way for all citizens to be involved with the mission.
Afghanistan is a country that suffers from such high levels of hunger and poverty that until enough attention is given to this crisis, Afghanistan cannot progress. This means getting back to the basic needs of food, health care, education for Afghans. This holds true for many countries.
Food can make a difference on a grand scale, but also a small CARE package can bring moments of joy to a needy child. Deutsch received messages from those who got his CARE packages after World War II. One was from a five-year-old named Peter in Austria whose box contained a special chocolate bar. Peter said, “Mama, let’s take a bus and go to America to see Uncle Sam. I want to thank him.”