The next time you go into a grocery store to buy milk, you could call it a carton of UNICEF. Sounds a bit strange? Actually, children in Europe after World War II would sometimes refer to milk as a "cup of UNICEF."
UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, came about because children in the war-torn countries were in desperate need of food. The war caused such great destruction, many basic items like milk were in short supply.
This crisis received top-level attention from the U.S. government. In 1946 President Harry Truman dispatched a team led by Herbert Hoover to help the countries in ruin. Their trip, and seeing the needs of hungry children, helped to inspire the creation of UNICEF.
Children in war-torn Europe were in desperate need of food. UNICEF and other organizations came to their aid. The cries of hungry children across the globe cannot be forgotten today. (National Archives photo)
Today, we need to reinvest in the principles which led to the creation of UNICEF. There are millions of children in Afghanistan, Yemen, Sudan, and other countries who struggle to find food each day. These hungry children are not learning about math, science, or conflict resolution, but instead toiling in tremendous hardship very early in life.
For the smallest of children, lack of food can cause severe lasting physical and mental damage. School-age children who are malnourished not only suffer healthwise, but lose the foundation of their future, which is their education. If we turn our backs on the needs of children around the world, we do grave injustice to our humanitarian traditions, and we forge a disastrous foreign policy.
In collaboration with our allies, the United States should lead an increase in funding for child feeding programs by UNICEF, the World Food Programme and other organizations. The upcoming G-8 summit in Canada offers an opportunity to take strong action. The charity Save the Children is right when they say that the lives of millions of children are on the line at this upcoming summit.
The resources exist to feed hungry children; what is needed is the will and the leadership of the U.S. to lead the international community and take action.