When President Franklin D. Roosevelt made his State of the Union Speech in 1941, the world was fast falling apart. War was engulfing the globe, and the U.S. would soon be dragged into the conflict.
But desperate times do not mean that hope and ideas have to wait. They were needed more than ever to help chart the course. Roosevelt, in his State of the Union, talked about the Four Freedoms. The third of these was Freedom from Want. Roosevelt expanded on this concept in a 1943 speech when he said:
”A sound world agricultural program will depend upon world political security, while that security will in turn be greatly strengthened if each country can be assured of the food it needs. Freedom from want and freedom from fear go hand in hand.”
George McGovern revisited the Third Freedom in his book, Ending Hunger in Our Time. One of the most important ideas McGovern discussed was an international program for feeding infants, children, and mothers, the most vulnerable segment of any population.
Food for the youngest of all children is imperative when you consider the physical and mental damage they will suffer in the “first 1,000 days” without proper nourishment. McGovern reasoned that a universal program for feeding the youngest of children, along with a universal school lunch program, would be a powerful combination to end hunger.
This approach for taking on global hunger would cost barely a fraction of the investment spent on all the world’s armaments. If you prefer a money-saving foreign policy, then choose food and development programs.
Child feeding would have long-lasting implications for building peace and reducing poverty. As former Army Chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, “Food is the very basis of all reconstruction, hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.”
The resources exist in this world to end child hunger, they just need to be properly channeled. That is where leadership comes in, both from the government and the private sector.
The Obama administration has put forward the Feed the Future program, which aims at building up food production in developing countries. A global child feeding program fits in perfectly with Feed the Future. The youngest of all children in Haiti, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yemen, Niger, Guatemala, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and so many other countries will be saved.
A network of hubs around the globe can be developed to speed the delivery of food, which will in turn benefit local economies. Nutriset, a company in France which produces life-saving foods like Plumpy’nut for young children, is building such a network of food suppliers in several countries, including Ethiopia and Madagascar.
A global child feeding program can meet the urgent needs that exist now and also increase the production of this food in developing countries. Consequently, countries can gradually develop self-sufficiency for maintaining their child feeding programs.
The concept of this global WIC (woman, infants and children) feeding program is on page 33 of McGovern’s book. It offers excellent Food for Thought for the administration and others on how to move forward with Feed the Future.
Freedom from Want for all is the most important goal the U.S. and the world can pursue in today’s quest for peace.