President Reagan called the U.S. Food for Peace program an “instrument of American compassion.” This government program has a tradition of feeding the world’s hungry. It saves lives. It represents the very best of America.
And we see it in action again with the recent Food for Peace donation of $64 million to the charity Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The food will be used as part of a relief mission to drought-stricken Ethiopia.
Ronald Reagan said “people who are hungry are weak allies for freedom.” Today, Food for Peace is threatened with severe budget cuts by Congress. (photo courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Library)
Ethiopia is suffering food shortages from failed crops. For the food that is available, prices are high for many Ethiopian families.
Catholic Relief Services is feeding about a million people there as part of the Joint Emergency Operations Plan. The Food for Peace donation goes to this joint mission.
The charities CARE, Save the Children US, Save the Children UK, World Vision, Food for the Hungry Ethiopia, and the Relief Society of Tigray will assist in the distribution of the food.
Around a million people are being given a lifeline, thanks to Food for Peace, CRS and the other charities working together. In addition, CRS and other aid agencies continue their work to build up the resilience of farmers to drought. This effort has helped make Ethiopia less vulnerable to the drought, compared to parts of Somalia where aid agencies have had far less access in recent years.
Women collect water in a region of Ethiopia where CRS has been working on drought mitigation projects since 2003. Photo by KL Dammann/CRS
Food for Peace, which started during the Eisenhower administration, has come under pressure recently from Congress. Members of the House of Representatives have proposed cutting most, if not all, of the funding for Food for Peace. Yet hunger-fighting programs are a very tiny part of the overall budget and cutting them makes no dent in the federal deficit.
CRS is working with its partners throughout East Africa to bring relief from the massive drought that struck the region. This includes aid to Somali refugees in Kenya, as well as support to host communities there which are also suffering from the widespread drought. In Somalia, within the areas of Mogadishu and Baidoa, CRS is helping 28,000 displaced persons with health and nutrition services.
In addition CRS is providing food, water, and livelihood support to 35,000 drought-affected Somalis in the south-central part of the country. Their work involves not only emergency aid, but also projects for building up resistance to future droughts.
David Orth-Moore of CRS says, “While working to alleviate the immediate human suffering, CRS recognizes the importance of long-term drought mitigation programs, and we’ve seen that some communities are faring better now during this current drought because of those projects.”
You can help Catholic Relief Services by donating to their East Africa Emergency Fund.