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Obama Announces New Anti-Hunger Commitments

April 2, 2009

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President Obama made a strong first step toward ending hunger and poverty in London today, promising to double food aid and devote new U.S. funds to help poor nations combat the global economic crisis.

The announcement, made in London at the G20 meeting of world leaders, committed the U.S. to double funding for food security programs to $1 billion, and introduced $448 million of new resources to help poor countries ease the impacts of the global economic crisis.

"President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton have promised to help lead the fight again poverty and hunger around the world, and today’s announcement represents a strong first step," said Heather Hanson, Mercy Corps' director of public affairs.

The President also pledged that the U.S. would work with the United Nations and the World Bank to prevent humanitarian catastrophes around the world.

Mercy Corps has encouraged the president and his administration to take additional steps to ensure that the funding is used effectively.

"In addition to more money, we need a clearly articulated and comprehensive plan for how funds with be used, with emphases on accountability, flexibility and efficiency," commented Hanson.

The agency also expressed its hope that a significant portion of the funding for food security will be allocated to agricultural development, helping people to feed themselves in the long term.

In addition, Mercy Corps called on the Administration to request cash-based, flexible assistance rather than exclusively relying on food commodities sent overseas.

Mercy Corps has taken numerous actions to urge the President to increase assistance for the world’s poor and hungry. Soon after President Obama’s election, Mercy Corps' supporters urged the U.S. to take the lead in cutting poverty and hunger in half by 2015, one of the Millennium Development Goals that have attracted overwhelming international support. Thousands also wrote their members of Congress and even placed calls to their Senators asking them to support increased funding for U.S. relief and development programs.

In February of this year, Mercy Corps helped head a broad consortium of aid organizations in unveiling the Roadmap to End Global Hunger campaign, a comprehensive and strategic plan to address world hunger in the short, intermediate and long terms. The Roadmap has been endorsed by Congressional Representatives Jim McGovern, Jo Ann Emerson, and numerous others government leaders.

Mercy Corps' hunger-fighting efforts are being coordinated through the agency’s Action Center to End World Hunger. Launched in October 2008 in New York City, the Action Center is a first-of-its-kind physical and online space where visitors can learn about the complex causes of hunger and take action — including political action — to help hungry families around the world.