The horrific numbers increase daily from the war in Syria. The UN now says that 6.3 million Syrians need life-saving food aid. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) requires $2 billion to feed them in 2014. If this war continues, these numbers will go up again.
“This is the worst humanitarian crisis that we have seen in decades, with every day more vulnerable Syrians pushed into hunger,” says Muhannad Hadi, Syria coordinator for WFP.
The U.S. Congress needs to act and boost our Food for Peace program to meet this Syrian emergency as well as others. As the new year approaches, the Philippines, Central African Republic, Mali, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan have been struck by conflict or natural disasters.
The Farm Bill legislation, which Congress will take up again in January, is where Food for Peace funding is decided.
David Kauck of Save the Children points out that reforms to Food for Peace must also be passed. “These changes would include eliminating restrictions on the use of local and regional food procurement; repealing inefficient shipping requirements; and scaling down food aid monetization over a period of time, accompanied by an equivalent increase in development assistance.”
When a disaster occurs, such as the typhoon in the Philippines, aid groups can sometimes use local food sources to feed those in need. Aid groups must have no restrictions on using this option.
Kauck adds, “Early research shows that the reforms could provide considerable cost savings resulting in more aid to more children, greater flexibility to use the most appropriate approach available to assist people in need, and faster humanitarian response times.”
The Farm Bill impacts both our domestic and foreign policies. A strong Farm Bill feeds the hungry both at home and abroad. Only in this way can we be strong as a nation, and also further global peace and stability.
Food aid is the only thing that will save children from damaging and even deadly malnutrition. Food is a force that can help restore peace.
We also know there is enough food on the planet for everyone, and no one, especially children, should be without.
Let’s remember that our decisions on food aid policy can change lives and make or break an entire generation in whole countries and regions. So let’s take the right action on the Farm Bill. Let us choose Food for Peace.