Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

A Simple Food Aid Improvement

 “Buy fresh, buy local” is often the mantra of Farmers’ Market proponents. They note that regionally-grown produce is more nutritious, and that purchasing it supports farmers in your community. This philosophy could improve overseas food aid as well, by increasing the amount of food available, allowing it to arrive more quickly to where it is needed, and helping farmers in developing countries.

The current U.S. policy mandates that food donated to African countries must be grown in the U.S. and shipped to where it is needed, which takes four to six months. Here’s a recent info-graphic run in the New York Times illustrating the lengthy process: Download food_aid.gif Food_aid_3

Instead of this costly and inefficient process, the World Food Program bought corn from Zambia, Kenya, and Uganda and distributed it to hungry citizens in these nations. Not only was this more efficient, but it also gave local farmers a boost and allowed the organization to provide 75% more food to needy families than they could have afforded if they had American products (1).

The Bush administration wants to allow up to one-quarter of our food aid budget to go towards buying locally-grown produce during emergencies. This would allow food to reach areas where it is needed more quickly, and would support local agriculture. More food would also be available, due to a decrease in shipping costs, which the U.S. could save over 50,000 lives over six months (2).

           Hunger and poverty have many complex causes, but this issue illustrates one simple solution that could save many lives and help the long-term economies of developing countries. Let's hope that Congress and the President work together to make our food aid more efficient and effective.

1. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/07/world/africa/07zambia.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&hp.

2. U.S. Agency for International Development

 

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