The Cincinnati Enquirer recently ran a section dedicated to "good news." Featured was Meghan Marth of Sycamore High School, founding a club to help children in Uganda. There was also Olivia Morris of Indian Hill High School setting up a global hunger awareness event.
These stories were more than inspirational reading. They were displays of awesome organizational capability.
The type of coordination and dedication shown by these activists at the grassroots level is needed also at the highest levels of government. That is why news of the opening of the Global Hunger and Food Security office at the State Department is so encouraging.
Laura Rozen of Politico broke the story earlier this week. The new office, which opens in May, could not come at a more critical time. More than one billion people are suffering from hunger worldwide.
This is clearly a grave humanitarian concern. It is also one of national security, something Josette Sheeran of the UN World Food Programme discussed last year at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The new State Department office has to bring the struggle against global hunger to the forefront of American foreign policy. No longer can it be relegated to just an important side issue, for hunger and malnutrition are devastating to America’s foreign policy goals in Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, Haiti and many other countries.
In Yemen, due to low funding, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to reduce rations for people displaced by conflict. Some child feeding programs have been cut completely.
There has been no WFP school feeding distribution in Yemen since June of last year because of lack of international donations. There may be a limited distribution in April, but then that's it. Stocks will be depleted. Stability is what we want in Yemen, but that will never happen if hunger runs rampant in that country.
In Iraq, a WFP school feeding program was scheduled to start in April for 900,000 children. It will be put on hold until September now, assuming it receives enough funding.
Low funding is also forcing ration cuts for WFP school feeding programs in Côte d'Ivoire and Mauritania. Afghanistan, Sudan, and so many other countries also have their own struggles with food shortages and starving, malnourished children.
The food crisis is so massive that effective coordination is needed not only in the U.S. government, but also among the international community. The new State Department office on global hunger and food security is moving in to assume that responsibility. It's time for action.