Getting a bunch of advocacy staff from dozens of organizations to all work on the same thing at the same time is a bit like herding cats. That’s what I spent my day doing yesterday.
Working with the Roadmap to End Hunger Steering Committee and InterAction, we brought together a big core group of advocates to discuss how we can work together to make sure that the Congress approves the President’s budget request for the Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative.
The budget request is exciting! If approved, the US would spend $1.76 billion to end global hunger. Because the lion’s share of that money — $1.15 billion — goes to agriculture programs, it is mostly focused on supporting programs to help people help themselves, making it both sustainable and smart.
I know that $1.76 billion probably sounds like a lot of money, but when you keep in mind that there are roughly a billion people going to bed hungry every night...well, that’s less than $2 per hungry person! And when you compare this to the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — which, according to a July 2009 Congressional Research Service report, were costing the Department of Defense $10.2 billion per month on average — it’s clear that it’s a pretty small piece of the budget pie.
I’ve written here before about what terrific opportunities we have in coming years to really reduce world hunger. And I still think we have a great chance of reaching millions of hungry people.
But these are hard times in Washington and everyone is looking for places where they can cut spending. We’ve been hearing from more and more Members of Congress that they just can’t justify this kind of funding for international programs when their constituents are also facing hard times.
So yesterday, dozens of groups came together and did the not-so-exciting work of dividing up into teams and assigning each team a few Members of Congress to meet with. In the next two weeks, we will join our fellow humanitarian, development and advocacy organizations to meet with all the leaders in the House and the Senate that we need to educate and to convince that they should support full funding of the President’s budget request to end global hunger.
Polls show that the vast majority of Americans support efforts to end hunger and poverty. But, because our elected representatives often don’t hear from us on these issues, they continue to neglect them.
This is a critical time to contact your Senators and Representative to let them know this is an issue you care about. It will make a huge difference.