Last week Ertharin Cousin, the director of the UN World Food Programme, said, “food security is security.” If you are an elected official responsible for food aid budgets, this is a fact you need to know.
Any country’s well-being rests first and foremost on food. Without it you cannot have a functioning economy and your children will be stunted in growth and mind. When hunger escalates, it can lead to violence, further setting back the society. Food means peace.
Yet, time and time again, members of Congress take to cutting food aid budgets. Some even propose amendments to abolish entire food aid programs. They might as well just eliminate American foreign policy, for you cannot have one unless you fight hunger.
As George Marshall once wrote, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” He knew what nations in distress needed as their foundation for recovery and peace. Marshall’s plan was indeed a
successful approach. We know that today Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Syria and other nations will not have peace or development without the basics of food.
When Cousin made her statement she was in the Middle East. She added, “Food security is a vital component for sustained peace across the region.” Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and other parts of
the region are facing a severe hunger crisis.
Right now as members of Congress consider the Farm Bill they have to think in terms of our foreign policy as a whole. We need a strong Food for Peace program. This initiative is the largest supporter of the World Food Programme, which is the agency on the front line of hunger everyday.
We need a strong international school lunch program as well. When you can mix food
with education it is a powerful tool. Food aid reforms need to pass to improve the efficiency of these programs.
It’s not a matter of political sides either. Democrats, Republicans and Independents can all
back the fight against hunger. That is the way it’s been done before. That is how it should be now.
Remember what a young lieutenant from the American Relief Administration said after World War One, when he was told a food aid mission was practically impossible. He said, “Yes, we can.” No politics there. He was doing his duty, not just as a soldier but as a human being.
We should expect no less from our elected officials when they are making decisions that impact the
lives of millions of people worldwide and our own national security.