Ending Hunger: When You Feed a Child You Feed the Future

U.S. Air Force plane dropping food into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1945 (National Archives)

U.S. Air Force plane dropping food into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1945 (National Archives)

In May 2010, I published an article about the historical airlift of food into the Nazi-occupied Netherlands at the end of World War II. Truck convoys of food for the hungry followed these missions which continued throughout the liberation.

Think of what the food meant to each individual child: an opportunity — a future. Take, as an example, one young girl living in the Netherlands at that time. Many children of her generation were lost because of the war and the food shortages that came with it. In the case of the Nazi-occupied Netherlands, this became a tragedy known as the hunger winter of 1944-1945.

This girl was one of those suffering from malnutrition as the war was drawing to an end. Fortunately, she and many others would benefit from the food brought in by the Allies. Subsequent to this relief would come aid from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).

The young girl, upon growing up, said, “A child is a child in any country, whatever the politics… there is no complicated diplomacy, when a child is starving. It’s simple. And we better do something about it. For our sakes too. That is if we want to continue to call ourselves human.”

Her name was Audrey Hepburn. The food made a great difference in her life, an example of the magic that can happen when a child is fed. Hepburn, late in her life, worked as an ambassador for UNICEF. This organization was created in the aftermath of World War II because of the crisis facing so many children. The Marshall Plan is known as the reconstruction of Europe. Well, UNICEF was a Marshall Plan for the rehabilitation of children after the war, and forever changed those war-devastated countries.

There is a whole generation of children today who deserve the same opportunity to find what treasures they possess. Today, the cries of children are coming from East Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Haiti, Sudan, Afghanistan, and many other countries. This is why it is so imperative that universal child feeding programs be developed through an international alliance.

The goal would be for each country to have a self -sufficient national school meal and infant feeding program. No single initiative could do more to save lives, prevent disease, and build peace in today’s world.

A whole generation could be fed for a relatively minimal cost. A whole generation could write the history of their country through educational achievement, progress, and development, all because we decided today their bodies and minds should be fed.

Article originally published as When You Feed A Child You Feed the Future at Blogcritics

A message from UNICEF:
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Audrey Hepburn holds a severely malnourished child at a UNICEF-assisted feeding centre in Baidoa. “For many it’s too late, but for many, many more we can still be on time,” said Ms. Hepburn, after witnessing the impact of famine on Somalia’s children in 1992.Nineteen years later, famine is again spreading, and over a million children urgently require aid.The Horn of Africa’s children need our help. You can join UNICEF’s effort by visiting Horn of Africa Crisis Page.

You can receive more UNICEF photos from the Horn of Africa on your iPhone by visiting: http://www.unicef.org/phot​​​​ography


(photos courtesy of UNICEF)

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Filed under Afghanistan, drought, East Africa, History, School feeding, UNICEF, World War II

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