Category Archives: World War II

Friendship Trains, Global Hunger and Plumpy’nut

Baby Food for the Friendship Train in 1947.

A group of Army personnel went on a special mission in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio in the fall of 1947. This group of soldiers was helping to load boxes of baby food onto a truck. The following day a train was to roll into Cincinnati to pick up the food. Its destination: Europe.

World War II was over, but the peace was not yet won. Millions of people in the war-devastated countries were suffering from food shortages. Harsh winters and drought had followed the war. Reconstruction still had a way to go. Children were at severe risk of stunted growth if they could not get the right nutrients.

Americans took action. The Friendship Train, as it was called, went from coast to coast picking up food like the baby formula. One of the great achievements in American history was helping to rebuild Europe after World War II, and the Friendship Train was part of this.

The world scene now is no different, in the sense that food is needed to win the peace. If children are hungry, action has to be taken.

What better way to do so than a Friendship Train of plumpy’nut heading toward the areas of suffering and conflict around the globe? Plumpy’nut is the special peanut paste that rescues children from life-threatening malnutrition. The key is to get plumpy’nut to every child at risk from malnutrition so they can be saved.

Low funding and lack of political will are often what prevents this. While there are many great efforts ongoing among the public to raise funds and promote plumpy’nut, getting all the political leaders on board is essential. It has to be a team effort, as Josette Sheeran, the World Food Programme’s director, often points out.

A Friendship Train of plumpy’nut today could rescue every malnourished child whether it’s in East Africa, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan, Guatemala, or any of the other suffering countries. It’s critical to reach the children because without nutrition in the first thousand days of life, they suffer lasting physical and mental damage.

It is unacceptable that low funding prevents foods like plumpy’nut from reaching malnourished children. Food aid is relatively inexpensive when it comes to foreign policy spending. Global hunger-fighting programs make up less than one-tenth of one percent of the entire U.S. federal budget.

So let’s get the Friendship Train rolling. All aboard with plumpy’nut. Save lives and help an entire generation of children to be healthy and strong enough to overcome the challenges their country may face.

Article first published as Friendship Trains, Global Hunger and Plumpy’nut on Blogcritics.

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Filed under advocacy, Books, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Europe, global hunger, History, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, School feeding, World Food Programme, World War II

October 5th, 1947 – A Television First To Save Europe From Starvation

President Harry Truman addressed the nation about the hunger crisis facing Europe (photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

On October 5, 1947 the first presidential address ever televised from the White House was delivered by Harry Truman. The President discussed the urgent hunger crisis facing Europe and how Americans could help through food conservation.

At that time Europe was struggling in its recovery from World War II. Rebuilding from the devastation was difficult enough, but a harsh winter followed by a drought during 1947 ruined crops. Food shortages were rampant and Europe needed food to survive and rebuild.

President Truman said of Europe, “The nations of Western Europe will soon be scraping the bottom of the food barrel. They cannot get through the coming winter and spring without help–generous help–from the United States and from other countries which have food to spare.

“I know every American feels in his heart that we must help to prevent starvation and distress among our fellow men in other countries…. Their most urgent need is food. If the peace should be lost because we failed to share our food with hungry people, there would be no more tragic example in all history of a peace needlessly lost.”

Food from the United States helped Europe get through the winter of 1947-1948 and helped set the foundation for the Marshall Plan. It was this initiative that brought about Europe’s recovery.

In addition to President Truman, other speakers for the program included Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Commerce W. Averell Harriman, and Charles Luckman, who was the Chairman of the Citizens Food Committee.

Read the full text of President Truman’s October 5, 1947 statement.

Listen to George Marshall’s remarks on October 5, 1947. (audio is faint)

Read how Americans fought hunger in Europe during the Fall of 1947:

Take in a Silent Guest this Thanksgiving (The 1947 Silent Guest Program to Buy CARE packages)

Transformational Leadership in Tackling Global Hunger Crisis (The Friendship Train of 1947)

Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away…..And Fight Global Hunger (CARE Packages after World War II)

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Filed under drought, Europe, global hunger, Harry Truman, History, malnutrition, peace, World War II

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger

During 2009 the global hunger crisis escalated with the number of people suffering from hunger climbing over one billion. This great humanitarian crisis calls for action on the part of world leaders. In countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Sudan hunger threatens hopes for peace. This book includes press releases, interviews and perspective on The Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation in Congress. This bill (H.R. 2817) was introduced during 2009 by U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) and Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.). The legislation is based on the recommendations made by groups such as Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, Friends of the World Food Program, World Vision and others. Inside you will hear from offiicials from these organizations as they discuss the Roadmap and its importance in fighting hunger. Also you will see how you can get involved to support the Roadmap to End Global Hunger. Also included in the book is a special historical perspective section on Fighting Hunger and World War II.

The Roadmap to End Global Hunger is available from:

Amazon.com

Google Ebookstore

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, global hunger, History, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, Sudan, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme, World Vision, World War II, Yemen

Somali Child: I Just Want to Go to School Again

Mindy Mizell of World Vision is traveling through the Horn of Africa to report on the relief efforts for famine and drought victims. Amid so much chaos and horror Mizell finds rays of hope, such as 13-year-old Abdillahi, a Somali refugee living in Dadaab, Kenya. His family was forced to flee Somalia to find food and escape the violence.

Here is a child confronted with war and famine and Mizell said he never uttered a single complaint or talked about how unfortunate he was. Instead, he remained positive and upbeat.

Mizell writes, “I guess I expected him to say that he wanted more food, more water, better clothes or maybe a soccer ball. Instead, Abdillahi told me he wanted to go to school again! Not only did Abdillahi believe he had a bright future, but he spent several minutes advocating on behalf of his Somali friends and telling me that they all needed to go to school in order to find good jobs someday.”


World Vision’s Mindy Mizell interviews Abdillahi, 13, in the Dadaab refugee camp. (World Vision photo)

Young Abdillahi just pointed the way to what can end hunger and build peace in the Horn of Africa: education and food.

In responding to the drought in East Africa, it’s vital to ensure that all children can receive school meals and an education. This is extremely challenging, especially in areas where there are refugees and host communities all with great needs.

Lisa Doherty of UNICEF explains, “In some cases there have been massive influxes of communities and school-aged children into urban areas where there aren’t school facilities to absorb them all.”

UNICEF states that “school feeding, provision of learning materials and teacher incentives and additional learning spaces are the top priorities in order to ensure that children can access learning opportunities, many for the first time.”

Rozanne Chorlton, UNICEF Somalia Representative says, “Education is a critical component of any emergency response. Schools can provide a place for children to come to learn, as well as access health care and other vital services. Providing learning opportunities in safe environments is critical to a child’s survival and development and for the longer term stability and growth of the country.”

This is similar to what the U.S. Army did after World War II. For example, in Vienna, Austria, the U.S. military government helped reopen schools and start a feeding program. They did not want children roaming the streets, and giving them food at school was a top priority with post-war malnutrition rates climbing. The Army and food ambassador Herbert Hoover recognized the such programs were critical and needed to be strengthened and expanded. School feeding provided by the Allies and others after the war was a key defense, as famine threatened to attack many nations at that time.

Today, school meals play an urgent role in providing for refugee children in East Africa. Sandra Bulling of CARE says, “we are currently planning to set up lunch programs for the accelerated learning program of newly arrived refugee children, many of whom have never been to school before.”

Aid agencies are mobilizing to help children through this crisis and open the door to a better life in the future. But will there be enough funding? Fighting hunger and building children’s education is an area of neglect in the foreign policy of many governments. How do you change this?  It’s up to the public to tell their representatives in government that it should be a top priority for all children to receive school meals and an education.

That is what can make a difference in the long term for children in East Africa and elsewhere who just want to go to school again.

See videos from the World Food Programme’s WeFeedback page.


Article first published as Somali Child: I Just Want to Go to School Again on Blogcritics.

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Filed under drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Kenya, malnutrition, School feeding, Somalia, Uncategorized, UNICEF, World Vision, World War II

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

Canada Fighting Famine from World War II to East Africa

A convoy of trucks of Allied food supplies moving into German-occupied territory along the road from Wageningen to Rhenan, Netherlands, 3 May 1945. Credit: Credits: (Credit: Capt. Alex M. Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-13441

Determination. We hear that word often in sports and in business. But what does it mean when it comes to saving lives? Amid harsh, rainy weather conditions on April 29, 1945 on an airfield in Great Britain, we found out.

It was World War II. A flight crew of seven boarded a Royal Air Force plane on a mission. Five of the men were from Ontario, Canada. One of them, the pilot, Robert Upcott of Windsor, made final preparations for take-off.

Only these men were not taking part in an enemy raid. They were on a mission to bring food to starving people in Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Millions of Dutch citizens were enduring what is known as “The Hunger Winter” of 1944-1945, as they awaited the final defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allied Forces.

Read the full article at Yahoo! Associated Content

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Filed under East Africa drought, History, World War II