This is an update to an article I posted during July about the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program. McGovern-Dole is an effort to build a global school lunch program with the United States leading the way.
There is a tremendous need for these school lunch programs. Worldwide there are 300 million children who suffer from hunger. Supporting school lunch programs helps reduce child hunger, promotes education and provides a foundation for progress and reconstruction in impoverished countries. In these nations the meals provide an incentive for parents to send their kids to school.
The United Nations World Food Programme has operated school lunch programs in countries where children are at great risk such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, and many others. There are numerous examples of vital school lunch programs that are in need of support. In Kenya, for instance, the World Food Programme partners with a Netherlands-based charity called ChildsLife International to distribute meals at the Stara School. According to ChildsLife, “At the Stara School, more than 500 children – most of whom have no parents and a number of whom are suffering from AIDS – attend daily classes in math, reading, writing and other subjects. Located in the largest slum in Nairobi, the school also provides children with medication and two meals a day.”
The McGovern-Dole program is currently before the Senate as part of the 2007 Farm Bill. The issue at hand is whether mandatory funding will be provided. This would increase the yearly budget for McGovern-Dole from 100 million to 300 million over the next five years. It would also demonstrate U.S. leadership in fighting child hunger around the world.
Without mandatory funding it will be far less certain whether charities like Catholic Relief Services, CARE, Food for the Poor, and the World Food Programme will be able to carry out school lunch programs in impoverished countries.
The House approved the mandatory funding in its version of the Farm Bill. Now it is up to the Senate to follow the House lead. The Friends of the UN World Food Program, a non-profit agency dedicated to raising awareness about hunger, is urging citizens to contact their senators about providing mandatory funding for McGovern-Dole.
The Farm Bill is expected to be voted on later this fall.