You may have heard of Taco Tuesday or Throw Back Thursday, but what about Hunger Wednesday?
That was the theme this week, when Washington was, for a day at least, focused on ending global hunger. In two separate hearings, the House Foreign Affairs Committee tackled the separate issues of food aid reform and global food security. These continue to be hot-button issues as the global community continues to find sustainable and effective solutions to end global hunger.
Hunger continues to be a grave problem, particularly for the tens of millions of refugees fleeing conflict zones. Famine threatens a war-torn Yemen, and displaced individuals throughout South Sudan are suffering from high rates of malnutrition and food insecurity. Not only is the violent conflict causing so many Syrians to flee their country, refugees are flooding to Europe due to another scary fact: the World Food Programme was forced to cut its food aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon from $28 per month per person to about $13, due to lack of funding. It’s hard to imagine living on either of those amounts.
These dire circumstances and unprecedented need have made the global community realize that more needs to be done, and we’re now witnessing a renewed focus on the urgency of ending global hunger. Pope Francis highlighted the challenge in confronting global hunger but called for action, stating during his speech to Congress, “The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.”
Also recently, 193 countries came together to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and ending global hunger is at the top of the list. Goal #2 calls on the world to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030.
To effectively achieve an end to world hunger, governments, private sector partners, non-governmental organizations, and others are working to give those who need it a hand-up, not a hand-out. President Obama emphasized this point at a recent speech marking the release of the SDGs, pointing out that “rather than just sending food during famine—although we have to do that to avert starvation—we also have to bring new techniques and new seeds and new technologies to more farmers so they can boost their yields and increase their incomes, feed more people and lift countless millions out of poverty.”
There are already solutions available to reach this goal. One of them is the Global Food Security Act, which has been approved by the House Foreign Relations Committee and is expected to be considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee soon. This legislation will ensure that U.S. food security strategy is focused on working with partner nations to ensure that small-holder farmers, particularly women, have access to the agricultural tools, techniques, and markets to help them sustainably lift their families and communities out of systemic poverty and hunger, with a specific focus on improving maternal and child nutrition.
Then, there’s the Food for Peace Reform Act, which focuses on reforming and enhancing America’s ability to provide lifesaving food aid to those in need throughout the world at a lower cost. Both bills offer important solutions to confronting the seemingly endless cycle of global hunger.
With hunger wreaking so much despair and tragedy around the world, it’s time to refocus our nation’s efforts on ending the cycle of hunger and poverty once and for all.
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