Washington, DC - Seeking to address a growing economic crisis that threatens to destroy the health and nutrition of millions of families worldwide, the nation's top humanitarian aid agencies joined Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) today in calling for a new comprehensive plan for the U.S. government to lead the international community in alleviating global hunger.
"In my 40 plus years of public service, there has never been such a united front, clarity of purpose and general agreement on what actually needs to be done in order to really end hunger. Now there is," said former Congressman
"It is a moral outrage that we have not yet produced the level of political will required to end world hunger," said former Senator George McGovern. "I urge Congress and the Obama administration to step up and make hunger a thing of the past. We live in a world where there is enough food to feed every man, woman and child."
Both Hall and McGovern are former ambassadors to the U.N. food and agriculture agencies in Rome.
The new, bipartisan legislation - expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks incorporates key recommendations of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger campaign, an initiative spearheaded by a diverse coalition of international relief and development organizations including Bread for the World, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, the Congressional Hunger Center, Friends of the World Food Program, Mercy Corps, Save the Children and World Vision.
The Roadmap to End Global Hunger and the legislation will set forth a comprehensive and strategic plan that addresses world hunger in the short, intermediate and long term. This approach seeks to increase funding for key interventions needed to alleviate global hunger and ensure better coordination among existing U.S. government programs.
"I have long said that hunger is a political condition," said Representative Jim McGovern. "We have the resources to end hunger in our lifetime - what we need is the political will to make it happen. The Roadmap being released today is a critical step. It provides concrete solutions and emphasizes the importance of speed and flexibility. I want to thank my friends in the international humanitarian and development community for all of their hard work in making this Roadmap a reality. I look forward to doing all I can in Congress - working with Jo Ann Emerson and others - to strengthen America's leadership in the fight against global hunger."
"Hunger is a tremendous problem, and it is not enough for our response to conditions of malnutrition, starvation and poverty to simply be well-intentioned. We must construct a complete response to hunger and script wide-ranging and proven-effective strategies. This Roadmap is a positive step that establishes commonsense waypoints so we can measure success at alleviating hunger and set good goals for the future. I'm glad to have Representative Jim McGovern and other colleagues by my side in the U.S. Congress who continue to work to raise the profile of this critical issue and implement solutions," said Representative Jo Ann Emerson.
The world is coping with high food prices and financial and economic crises that are pushing more people into poverty and hunger. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of hungry people worldwide has increased to nearly 1 billion. An overwhelming majority of these people live in developing nations.
The United States, a long-time leader in addressing global hunger, led the international community in responding to this crisis by designating an additional $1.4 billion in food aid and more than $600 million in cash resources above already planned funding levels to respond to urgent needs created by the global food crisis last year. However, given that global hunger has been a perennial challenge - easily exacerbated by conflict, recurring natural disasters and high food prices - the U.S. government needs a more strategic and comprehensive approach to provide relief in the short term and lay the foundation for a permanent solution.
In establishing a comprehensive approach, the Roadmap to End Global Hunger and the legislation call on the Executive Branch and Congress for action. The Obama administration should establish an international hunger coordinator in the White House. Until now, there has been no single overall accountable official on global hunger. Congress should also restore the House Select Committee on Hunger, which was disbanded in 1994, and establish a Senate Select Committee on Hunger as well. These bipartisan, bicameral select committees would help ensure that the U.S. government moves forward with a comprehensive plan.