Saturday , April 20 2024
The highest level of the U.S. government has to be fully engaged on the issue of global hunger

Global Hunger Fight Missing White House Coordinator

General Dwight Eisenhower came home. It was April 20, 1946 and the General was returning to his birthplace in Denison, Texas to the cheers of thousands. But for Ike, this homecoming was more than a celebration. It was a chance to issue a warning.

Even after the great victories of World War II, there would be no peace if Europe was left to starve. Chaos, disorder, and possibly another war would follow. Ike warned that food would make the difference between peace or future conflict.

The New York Times reported that Ike even "chided" a soldier for throwing away a good piece of bread at the homecoming. Food should not be wasted when it held the key to peace. While we hope Ike was not too hard on the fellow soldier, we must listen to the Food for Peace message he delivered. For if we seek peace today in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan, it is food that will form the backbone of this effort.

Food distribution in Afghanistan (WFP/Ebadullah Ebadi)

But the U.S. response to hunger needs a leader. The State Department and also the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation have called for a global hunger coordinator (czar or envoy) to work in the White House. Such an individual could keep global hunger at the top of the nation's foreign policy agenda.

The global hunger coordinator can organize the response by the different U.S. agencies involved. In addition, such a high-level position could exert influence on improving international coordination in tackling hunger.

Today, no such position has been filled at the White House, all this at a time when hunger threatens the peace and reconstruction efforts across the globe. Roger Thurow, in his Global Food For Thought column, recently wrote, "The hunger envoy’s job is to make sure no one forgets. And to 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."

It's all about a team effort. The public, particularly with its response to the crisis in Haiti, has shown it can mobilize and fight hunger. There are many able food ambassadors among us. However, the public cannot do this job alone. The highest level of the U.S. government has to be fully engaged on the issue; otherwise, the problem of global hunger will continue to drift along, ready to be passed on to another generation.

Let's encourage President Obama and the Congress to place hunger at the top of the foreign policy agenda, where it belongs. It starts with the global hunger coordinator who can be appointed by President Obama or through passage of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation.

The Friends of the World Food Program have set up a take action page for the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, or you can write to President Obama at the White House web site.

About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.

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