Tag Archives: John F. Kennedy

JFK’s Humanitarian Halloween

When Halloween came around in 1960 John F. Kennedy, while campaigning for president, came across a unique trick or treat event. This ghoulish party was not about collecting candy but instead raising money for the UN agency fighting child hunger and disease-UNICEF.

JFK loved it! Kennedy remarked at a shopping plaza in Willow Grove where the UNICEF party took place, “I think that is in the best tradition of this country’s humane and sympathetic effort.” Kennedy continued speaking about fighting hunger and disease in his short speech.

In fact, when JFK became president he even issued a statement from the White House in support of Halloween trick or treat for UNICEF. Kennedy said “UNICEF has caught the imagination of our people–especially our nation’s children whose Halloween collections have become a symbol of concern and an expression of tangible aid.”

See my full commentary at The History News Network:

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

We Should Be Dealing with the North Korean Threat the JFK Way

Nuclear-armed North Korea’s latest missile test shows the growing threat to South Korea, Japan and even the United States. The rogue nation may gain the capability of reaching the U.S. with a nuclear missile.

There is also fear North Korea may soon conduct its sixth nuclear test explosion. Senator John McCain says the Korea standoff is “like a Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.”

See my column at the History News Network

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Uncategorized

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:

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, Uncategorized

President Kennedy announces the UN World Food Program to fight global hunger

President Kennedy, at a press conference in April of 1961, announcing the creation of the UN World Food Program to fight hunger. See the video at YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger

Video: President Kennedy Signs the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

President John F. Kennedy signing the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. The treaty banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, underwater and outerspace. Underground testing would continue but the treaty was a first step toward the not yet achieved goal of ending all nuclear testing. See the video on YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under History

Video: President Kennedy’s speech on world hunger

President John F. Kennedy’s speech on hunger at the World Food Congress in 1963. See the video on YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under world hunger

Video: President Kennedy on Nuclear Test Ban-1963 press conference

President John F. Kennedy answers questions about the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at a press conference on August 20, 1963. See the video on YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under History

Video: From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

A short video about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and the aftermath, which included negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union to end nuclear weapons testing. See the video on YouTube.

Leave a comment

Filed under History

New Senate must finish what Ike, JFK started

We’ll have a new Senate soon. We don’t know exactly who yet, but one mission regardless should be the same: The Senate must finish what Ike and JFK started: ending nuclear weapons testing.

Read the commentary at The Hill:

Leave a comment

Filed under nuclear weapons

Obama, Congress Should Copy JFK’s First Days in Office and Protect the Hungry

President Kennedy supported food aid programs at home and abroad

Hunger is on the offensive, even in the United States. The Department of Agriculture reports that 49 million Americans struggle to get food. Worldwide, nearly one billion people suffer from hunger, and child malnutrition is rampant in East Africa, Afghanistan, Yemen and many other areas.

President Obama and the Congress, as they grapple with the federal budget, also need to protect the hungry. They can take a page from President John F. Kennedy’s playbook for his first days in office, back in 1961.

Kennedy’s first act as president was to order food aid to hungry people in the U.S., particularly in West Virginia. Unemployment was high, and it was critical that food support be given during a time of great strain on the people there. Kennedy’s plan involved distribution of food stamps to the needy. And it worked.

Kennedy reported on this aid in 1962, stating, “Low income families are receiving better diets…Retail food store sales in these areas increased 8 percent in dollar volume. There have been savings in distribution costs and benefits to the economy of the food stamp communities.”

Also the Kennedy administration worked on improvements to the national school feeding program. This is a vital safety net to ensure that children in impoverished families do not suffer from lack of nutrition.

Today, protection is needed for families all across America, where unemployment rates are skyrocketing. Demand for food banks is growing. Many Americans face a struggle to afford food. But support from the federal government is dwindling, with programs like the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) facing reduced funding levels. Emergency food banks across the country count on TEFAP for supplies.

Vicki Escarra of Feeding America says, “As Congress and the administration look for ways to reduce the federal deficit, it is more critical than ever to protect funding for nutrition programs that provide the first line of defense against hunger in America.”

President Obama and the Congress should expand food aid for hungry Americans. Programs like TEFAP, food stamps, the national school lunch program, including summer feeding, need to be emphasized. Like JFK on his first days, they need to do what is right for the American people.

But also like JFK, Obama and Congress have to think globally and consider our national security interests abroad. Fighting hunger overseas is an essential part of our foreign policy. JFK realized this. His predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower knew this when he signed Public Law 480, which became known as Food for Peace. This program is the primary tool for the U.S. in fighting hunger abroad.

President Kennedy, in his second executive order, created a White House office for Food for Peace. This bolstered the existing program and made fighting hunger a top priority, where it also needs to be now.

Today, the U.S. should expand its food for peace program, not reduce funding as proposed in budgets put forward by Congress earlier this year. Hunger-fighting initiatives are relatively inexpensive and do not contribute to our debt problems. Moreover, they are essential in terms of promoting stability and economic development abroad.

The U.S. simply cannot afford to retreat from fighting the menace of hunger. There is tremendous suffering ongoing in East Africa in the famine and drought zone. In Afghanistan, where we are trying to win the peace, a hunger crisis is growing, and food aid programs face huge budget shortfalls. Likewise, in Yemen hunger is on the rise while the World Food Programme and UNICEF remain low on funds to combat the scourge.

One area where the U.S. really needs to step up is in child feeding. When Kennedy became president, he named George McGovern the Food for Peace Director. McGovern led a vigorous campaign against hunger, including school meals for millions of children in Brazil, South Korea, India, Poland and other countries. Many of these nations developed their own national school feeding program from this effort.

Today, we need that same kind of resolve as funding for school lunch programs in developing countries remains low. In Afghanistan, for instance, reduced funding for the World Food Programme forced about 500,000 children to lose their school meal ration. That is hardly an epitome of a reconstruction going well.

In Haiti, support for school feeding is critical to turning the corner on rebuilding the country from the earthquake. We do not want to cut funding now. Food for Peace as well as the McGovern-Dole school lunch program need increased funding.

Food aid programs have historically received bipartisan support. They should today as well. For the future of the United States and that of other countries rests on the most basic foundation–food and nutrition. Food for Peace must remain a top priority for the current government as it was the day President Kennedy took office fifty years ago.

Article first published as Obama, Congress Should Copy JFK’s First Days in Office and Protect the Hungry on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under Afghanistan, drought, Dwight Eisenhower, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, Kenya, malnutrition, Middle East, plumpy'nut, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Yemen