Category Archives: global hunger

Interview: Lorene Didier of the World Food Programme in Haiti

Haiti is one of the 45 nations needing emergency food assistance this year according to the US Famine Warning System. Natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew, has worsened food shortages in the impoverished nation. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is Haiti’s lifeline for overcoming hunger.

WFP provides school meals to children to reduce hunger and improve class attendance.

School feeding in Haiti is one of the most important projects of the World Food Programme. (WFP/Lorene Didier)

One the major sources of funding for school feeding in Haiti is the McGovern-Dole program run by the United States Department of Agriculture. However,  McGovern-Dole is to be eliminated under a new budget proposal from the President of the United States. The United States Congress does have a chance to save McGovern-Dole funding for Haiti and other impoverished nations.

Let’s learn more about school feeding in Haiti and the impact of McGovern-Dole funding in this interview with Lorene Didier of the World Food Programme.

For the current school year you are reaching 400,000 students with school meals, almost half of which is provided by McGovern-Dole funding?

Correct. We are distributing 400,000 hot meals every day to school children, among which 175,000 are funded directly by McGovern Dole.

Is there enough funding for the school meals starting next school year?

Without further funding, WFP will have no other choice than to reduce the number of school children reached in the 2017/18 school year by 15%, which means WFP will no longer be able to provide daily meals to 60,000 school children in Haiti next school year.

Is food from local Haiti farms being provided with any of these meals? 

We are procuring local commodities such as rice, salt and maize meal. In 2016, WFP was able to purchase 1,753 tons of locally grown rice. WFP is also distributing meals to 7,000 children in the department of Nippes prepared with 100% of locally grown food, including fresh vegetables. This provides local farmers with a predictable outlet for their products, leading to a stable income, more investments and higher productivity. The children enjoy healthy, diversified meals; this makes it more likely that they will stay in school, perform better and improve their adult job prospects. Next year, WFP will increase the number of school children receiving 100% local school meals from 7,000 to 15,000.

Is summer feeding going to be provided so the students don’t lose the meal when school closes?

WFP will not be able to implement summer feeding as we have to prioritize the limited funding available to provide meals to children at school during the school year.

What has the impact of school meals been in areas where the hurricane struck? Have the meals reduced malnutrition and improved attendance?

WFP is currently distributing school meals to 27,000 children in Grande Anse, the most affected department by Hurricane Matthew. In Grande Anse many families of farmers lost all their crops and food stocks after the hurricane and many of them will not be able to provide sufficient food for their families until at least the next harvest in June 2017. It is therefore crucial for children to be able to have access to at least one nutritious meal a day at school to help ensure they are not too hungry or malnourished.

In addition to school meals, WFP is also distributing specialized food to 27,000 children and 25,000 pregnant and nursing women in order to prevent malnutrition in the most hurricane affected areas. This is complemented by a family ration benefiting around 126,000 persons.

Originally published at Blogcritics Magazine:

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Instead of sending weapons to the Middle East, we should be sending food

President Trump’s new arms agreement with Saudi Arabia ignores the most urgent threat in the Middle East: famine.

Yemen is on the brink of starvation because of a civil war between a Saudi-led coalition and rebels. Sending more arms to Saudi Arabia will strengthen its military machine to further wage war in Yemen. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “many of the armaments we’re providing to Saudi Arabia will help them be much more precise and targeted with many of their strikes.”

What we should be doing instead is providing food to Yemen.

See my full commentary at The Hill:

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We’re in a Global Hunger Crisis. Solution? Take JFK’s Approach

The U.S. government’s global famine warning system has sounded the alarm on hunger. As a result of conflict and drought “70 million people, across 45 countries, will require emergency food assistance this year.”

Four countries (South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia) are in the gravest danger of famine.

As the Trump administration gets underway, they are suddenly faced with a world hunger crisis that is “unprecedented in recent decades.” How will they respond to the biggest foreign policy emergency of their first year?

See my full article at The History News Network:

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My Christmas Day column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer: Operation Reindeer!

Way back in 1953, Santa Claus took a little time out of his busy schedule to help a new president of the United States, Dwight Eisenhower. We hear a lot about presidential appointments these days. Well, that year it was Santa who was called to action by the president.

The holiday season inspired “Operation Reindeer,” Eisenhower’s plan to send Christmas food packages to hungry people around the world

See my full article in the Christmas Day Plain Dealer (page E2).

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Wichita Eagle Oped: Food could be America’s greatest Christmas gift

On Christmas Eve night in 1947, President Harry Truman proudly talked about America’s most noble tradition: feeding the hungry. Truman said, “The great heart of the American people has been moved to compassion by the needs of those in other lands who are cold and hungry.”

Just days before, Truman signed legislation to provide food to European countries suffering in the aftermath of World War II.

Citizens donated as well, giving food to the Friendship Train, which collected goods for Europe. Hungry children in France would be having school lunches again because of America’s generosity.

As we celebrate the holidays, we should remember America’s great calling to help those in need whether at home or abroad.

See my guest column in the December 25 Wichita Eagle (page 7A) or online at Kansas.com

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What do the American and Syrian Civil War Have in Common?

In the story Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara experiences the food shortages caused by America’s Civil War. Hunger is a horrible fate that no one should endure.

Scarlett knows this. In the famous scene from the movie she vows, “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

The American Civil War, the bloodiest the country has ever seen, was more than a fight between the Northern Union and the Southern Confederacy. It was also a struggle against hunger.

See my full article at the Huffington Post

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My Cincinnati Enquirer Oped: Students revive ‘silent guest’ tradition

Imagine a mystery guest coming to your Thanksgiving dinner, one you have never met.

After World War II, that is what happened in thousands of American households. But it was an imaginary, or “silent,” guest: one of the world’s hungry.

The “silent guest” campaign of 1947-48 asked Americans to open up their hearts and share their Thanksgiving bounty. Gov. Robert Bradford of Massachusetts, a descendant of the Pilgrims who started Thanksgiving, proclaimed the new tradition of feeding a “silent guest” at the holiday meal.

Read the full article at the Cincinnati Enquirer:

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