Humanitarian groups are calling on the United States to fully adopt the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, a series of strategic steps to rescue the numbers of the nearly one billion suffering people who cannot access basic food.
The Roadmap, first introduced in 2009, calls for the US to increase its funding for hunger relief programs. While this might seem a challenge in the current cash-strapped environment, the Roadmap notes that jumping to $5 billion a year on global hunger relief “is just over one tenth of one percent of the US budget, yet would support increased food security for hundreds of millions of people worldwide.”
“There is no reason why someone should go hungry in this day and age. No reason.” – Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children (World Food Program USA photo)
Rep. Sam Farr of California: “Hunger is a threat to our national and fiscal security. Our national leaders understand that we cannot have a stable world without addressing the root causes of poverty and hunger.” (World Food Program USA photo)
Currently, US hunger-fighting programs like Food for Peace and the McGovern-Dole school lunch program do not even add up to $2 billion in funding a year. To further compare, the annual cost of the U.S. nuclear weapons program is estimated to be $52 billion.
Bill O’Keefe, the vice president for advocacy at Catholic Relief Services, says, “This Roadmap makes clear that we as a country have to do more if we are going to end global hunger. In the current Congress, we have fought hard just to maintain current spending levels and still face the possibility of significant cuts. The Roadmap shows that spending to end hunger is a good investment that is supported by a majority of the American people. Hunger around the world can be significantly reduced if we follow these recommendations.”
An increase in funding would give U.S. food assistance programs far more reach. Add the increase in funding to more local purchasing of food in developing countries and the budget can stretch even further. Food purchased in developing countries generally provides a savings compared with shipping the food from the United States.
The key provision of the Roadmap, though, lies in leadership. That has to start at the top, with the appointment of a Global Food Security Coordinator. The Roadmap states, “The US should ensure coordination and integration of food security programs by appointing a Global Food Security Coordinator responsible for overseeing development and implementation of the government-wide global food security strategy, with corresponding budget authority over all global food security programs.”
There has to be someone in charge, and someone visible in charge. Global hunger is escalating and drought has sent countries into famine or near-famine levels numerous times the last few years. Conflicts in Sudan, Syria, and other areas have also increased the ranks of the hungry.
Not only does the government have to be fully mobilized to fight global hunger; so too does the public. We can effectively do this if we have a “food ambassador” in view every day leading the way. Congress and the President need to take action on this provision of the Roadmap right away.
“If you want to end global hunger, follow this Roadmap,” said Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts. “We can ensure no child wakes up [and] goes to school or goes to bed hungry. This report tells us how to do it. I want to drive down this road to end hunger.”