Food Security is Security

School meals are an important part of WFP's emergency response to the conflict in Mali. They give children like these an added reason to attend school while providing them with the calories and nutrition they need to be healthy. (WFP/Daouda Guirou)

School meals are an important part of WFP’s emergency response to the conflict in Mali. They give children like these an added reason to attend school while providing them with the calories and nutrition they need to be healthy. (WFP/Daouda Guirou)

Last week Ertharin Cousin, the director of the UN World Food Programme, said “food security is security.” If you are responsible for food aid budgets, such as our elected officials, these words are what you need to know.

Any country’s well being rests first and foremost on food. Without it you cannot have a functioning economy and your children will be stunted in growth and mind. When hunger escalates, it can lead to violence further setting back the society. Food means peace.

Yet, time and time again members of Congress take to cutting food aid budgets. Some even propose amendments to abolish entire food aid programs. They might as well just eliminate American foreign policy, for you cannot have one unless you fight hunger.

As George Marshall once wrote, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” He knew what nations in distress needed as their foundation for recovery and peace. Marshall’s plan was indeed a successful approach. We know that today Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Syria and other nations will not have peace or development without the basics of food.

When Cousin made her statement she was in the Middle East. She added, “Food security is a vital component for sustained peace across the region.” Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Egypt and other parts of the region are facing a severe hunger crisis.

Right now as the Congress considers the Farm Bill they have to think in terms of our foreign policy as a whole. We need a strong Food for Peace program. This initiative is the largest supporter of the World Food Programme, which is the agency on the frontline of hunger everyday.

We need a strong international school lunch program as well. When you can mix food with education it is a powerful tool. Food aid reforms need to pass to improve the efficiency of these programs.

It’s not a matter of political sides either. Democrats, Republicans and Independents can all back the fight against hunger. That is the way it’s been done before. That is how it should be now.

Remember after World War One, what a young lieutenant from the American Relief Administration said after being told a food aid mission was practically impossible. He said, “Yes, we can.” No politics there. He was doing his duty, not just as a soldier but as a human being.

We should expect no less from our elected officials when they are making decisions that impact the lives of millions of people worldwide and our own national security.

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