Tag Archives: Marshall Plan

You can influence world affairs by feeding the hungry

This week is the anniversary of President Harry Truman’s historic first TV address from the White House. His speech was about America’s most urgent foreign policy issue: hunger. Europe was suffering with food shortages as it struggled to rebuild from World War II.

Read the article at Examiner.

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Today in history: Truman calls Americans to save Europe from hunger

It was on September 25, 1947 when President Harry Truman held a news conference at the White House about a “critical situation calling for immediate action by every American.” A severe hunger crisis had emerged following a summer of severe drought in Europe and also at home.

At the news conference, Truman discussed a report he received from the Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs, which had been monitoring food supplies. Truman read,

The Committee states that adverse crop developments, including those of recent weeks, both in North America and in Europe, make apparent a food shortage even worse than a year ago. The losses from heavy frosts in northwestern Europe last winter have been increased by a general European drought this spring and summer. Any significant cut in the already low rations in those countries will have most serious consequences for their rehabilitation.”

At this time in history, nations in Europe were trying to recover from World War II. While the fighting had stopped, hunger proliferated after the war. Humanitarian aid from America was crucial for keeping Europe afloat until they could rebuild.

Truman announced a Citizen’s Food Committee on this day, which would encourage Americans to conserve more food. In addition, the food report set in a motion a chain of events which culminated in the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe.

An interim food aid package was signed in December and that preceded the Marshall Plan. In addition, an outpouring of donations from Americans gave European numerous food packages during the coming winter months.

Secretary of State George Marshall, who crafted the Marshall Plan, was a member of the Cabinet Committee on World Food Programs. Both Marshall and Truman would make speeches that fall emphasizing the need for food as the basis of reconstruction and peace. That message must not be lost with today’s leadership as they seek to build peace and stability in suffering parts of the globe.

Read the article at Examiner.

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This Is What Working for Peace Looks Like

It all started around a bonfire one autumn night in 1945. Students at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio were fired up to begin a project to “Help those who cannot help themselves.”

 Read the article at History News Network.

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Small college captured spirit of the Marshall Plan

It all started around a bonfire one autumn night in 1945. Students at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio were fired up to begin a project to “Help those who cannot help themselves.”

Read the article at Examiner.

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Marshall’s speech still calls us to fight world hunger

On June 5, 1947, at Harvard University’s graduation, George Marshall delivered a speech calling for the rebuilding of war-devastated Europe. Marshall, the Secretary of State, said the United States had to stand “against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.”

Read the full article and watch video at Examiner.com

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A Historic TV speech in the Fight Against Hunger

President Harry Truman (photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

President Harry Truman (photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

These days what we see on TV, especially about the government shutdown, is not very inspiring. A glance back in time though gives us something we can treasure. On October 5, 1947 a historic television event took place, one that helped fight world hunger.

President Harry Truman delivered the first ever televised presidential address from the White House. His speech was about saving lives from the one enemy that remained from World War II: hunger.

At the time Europe, still reeling from the war, was suffering from a severe drought. Food was in short supply. Truman asked Americans to conserve food. The Citizens Food Committee was formed to rally America behind this effort.

President Truman said, 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.”

What happened after this TV address was amazing. Americans came together to donate food to Europe via the Friendship Train which crossed most of the country that fall. The “Silent Guest” program was started during the holidays to buy a CARE package for a hungry person overseas. Catholic Relief Services sponsored a nationwide Thanksgiving Week campaign to collect food at churches.

The post-war years saw Americans take action to make sure hungry children overseas received the food they needed to grow and learn.

The Congress followed with passage of the Interim Aid bill that provided food for Austria, Italy and France that winter. This food aid led up to passage of the Marshall Plan in 1948 and the reconstruction of Europe.

World hunger had a high profile in America’s foreign policy at that time. President Truman, Secretary of State George Marshall and other leaders routinely talked about the importance of fighting hunger. The October 5th television address being one example of this outreach. Marshall also addressed the nation about fighting hunger on October 5th.

In order to maintain a steady program of international food aid and development, you need to keep the issue front and center within the halls of government and the public.

Making world hunger a top priority is what Representative Betty McCollum (MN) is trying to accomplish with the Global Food Security Act. This bill would create a White House level coordinator for world hunger relief. Aid agencies want this bill passed. It has go through Congress and there is some support. More is needed.

We are now facing one of the largest hunger emergencies of our time with the war in Syria. This conflict has caused millions to be displaced and hungry. Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Mali and so many other areas are also suffering from severe hunger. It’s clear that action must be taken. We need a sense of urgency.

Food need to be a foreign policy priority for as George Marshall once said, “hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.”

originally published at the Huffington Post

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The Final Olympic Event: The Global Hunger Summit

Two-time Olympic silver medalist Paul Tergat says “As sports men and women, it is important for all of us to use our privileged positions to raise awareness about the challenges that some of the less fortunate among us have to face.” (photo courtesy of the World Food Programme)

This Sunday British Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting a summit on the global hunger crisis. This meeting, coming at the close of the London Olympics, hopes to draw the media spotlight toward the nearly one billion people worldwide who suffer from hunger and malnutrition.

For humanity, the most important Olympic event is this hunger summit. Ertharin Cousin, the director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), says, “The Global Hunger Event comes at a time when the eyes of the world are focused on the pinnacle of human physical achievement at the London Olympics. For far too many children, a lack of food and nutrition means that, sadly, they will never have a chance to compete in life.”

Right now hunger is striking conflict-ravaged South Sudan and Sudan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Haiti. In the Sahel region of Africa humanitarian aid is needed to prevent famine after a severe drought. Over in East Africa there is still tremendous hunger one year after drought struck the region leading to famine in Somalia.

Drought in the U.S. this summer may cause higher food prices for an extended period of time, making the global hunger fight that much harder to carry out. Aid agencies like WFP depend on voluntary donations from the government and the public to fight hunger.

But will governments be able to provide funds during tough economic times and needs at home? It’s important to remember that food aid is a relatively inexpensive foreign policy expense when you compare it to programs like nuclear weapons spending. Targeting food aid for budget cuts is barking up the wrong tree.

The last time London hosted the Olympics was in 1948, the same year the Marshall Plan started to rebuild Europe after World War II. Following the conflict, the world was on the brink of the most massive famine in history. Former U.S. president Herbert Hoover was appointed as food ambassador in 1946 to coordinate a global response to save millions of lives. UNICEF was created during this time period to meet the needs of children who suffered more than anyone from the war. In 1947 Austria, Italy, and France received pre-Marshall Plan aid so they could have enough food for the winter before the recovery program started.

The food aid provided to Europe offered the foundation for reconstruction. As former Army Chief and Secretary of State George Marshall said, ” Food is the very basis of all reconstruction. Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.”

This Sunday in London the starving peoples of the world are hoping the Olympic spirit can come to their aid via the hunger summit.

Article first published as The Final Olympic Event: The Global Hunger Summit on Blogcritics.

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Cutting Food Aid Programs Dangerous to National Security

There is much debate in Congress on how much to cut military spending. But there is another vital area of our foreign policy at risk of budget cuts too: international food aid.

Fighting hunger is not often included in talks about national security. But it should be. Remember the famous World War II slogan, “Food will win the war and write the peace.” George Marshall said, “Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace.” Food formed the foundation of the famous Marshall Plan that spurred Europe’s recovery after the war.

While some members of Congress may think it prudent now to cut food aid programs to save a few dollars, think again. On the contrary, by investing now in nutrition and agriculture development, future humanitarian disasters can be averted, thereby reducing foreign assistance in the future. Nutrition for a generation of children means better educated societies, more stable societies and the chance for economic growth.

Investing in farmers allows them to build up the capacity to better resist drought. This is what can prevent famines from taking hold.

Reducing food aid will cost lives, increase the spread of disease, and weaken societies who are fighting poverty. Congress simply cannot cut food aid, in view of the famine striking East Africa, drought leveling Afghanistan, and malnutrition on the attack in Yemen. We have to remember that Haiti and other countries need food to remain on the road to recovery.

International food aid currently accounts for less than one tenth of one percent of the federal budget. So in essence, you are looking at an already relatively low-funded program that is being selected for potential cuts. You could actually increase the funding for these programs past current levels and put very little strain on the budget.

International food aid programs include the Food for Peace initiative started by President Dwight Eisenhower and the McGovern-Dole program which provides school meals. These programs got their start by members of the Greatest Generation who understood that food forms the basis of all reconstruction, peace and progress.

This is a lesson Congress should not forget as it forges the budget and how to spend on an essential aspect of our national security: fighting global hunger.

Learn more about the potential budget cuts at the World Food Program USA.

Article first published as Cutting Food Aid Programs Dangerous to National Security on Blogcritics.

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