Tag Archives: McGovern-Dole program

McGovern-Dole Brings School Meals to Bangladesh

School meals programmes encourage parents to send girls to school and thus contribute to gender equality. (WFP/Shehzad Noorani)

A shipment of wheat from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) just arrived in Bangladesh and will help provide food for school children. The wheat, which is being unloaded at Chittagong Port on September 11th, will be used to produce high-energy biscuits.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) will distribute the biscuits to 350,000 pre-primary and primary school children. WFP is working with the government of Bangladesh to provide school meals and eventually build a nationwide program.

The USDA donation of wheat is part of the McGovern-Dole International School Meals program, named after former senators George McGovern and Bob Dole.

Both senators McGovern and Dole have championed school feeding for children in the United States and overseas. The McGovern-Dole program is the leading source of funding for school feeding programs run by aid agencies like WFP. The US Congress decides how much funding to allocate to McGovern-Dole each year.

School feeding encourages parents to send their children to class and it provides an extra source of food which can help fight off malnutrition. Providing school meals abroad is a US tradition that goes back many years including the first two world wars.

Christa Räder, the WFP Representative in Bangladesh, says “This shipment will enable WFP to continue reaching children in the most poverty prone areas of Bangladesh. The strong support provided by USDA is helping children who would not otherwise be able to get an education with the opportunity to attend school regularly and to have the much needed micronutrient intake to grow up healthy.”

A WFP study revealed that the school feeding has a “substantial effect on reducing micronutrient deficiencies – which affect children’s ability to learn and fight diseases – through the provision of biscuits fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. ”

The US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, said, “Our celebration today is about more than a mountain of donated wheat from America. We celebrate today partnership. Partnership between America and Bangladesh to nurture the children of Bangladesh, partnership to nurture the development of Bangladeshi children both physically and mentally, partnership to build the nation’s citizens of tomorrow.”

Mr. Md. Motahar Hossain, MP, Honourable State Minister said, “The programme is significantly contributing to improving enrolment and attendance and reducing drop outs. Thank you to the USDA for this assistance to the school feeding programme.”

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McGovern’s The Third Freedom Essential Reading as Congress Debates Food Aid

George McGovern, author of the Third Freedom, was named the United Nations World Food Programme's first global ambassador against hunger. (WFP photo)

Former Democratic senator George McGovern’s The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time highlights ways Congress can work to fight malnutrition at home and abroad, and why it’s so important we win this struggle against hunger.

His book takes on special meaning right now as Congress is proposing reductions in funding to food aid programs both here and abroad.

McGovern, who ran for President in 1972, was the Food for Peace director under President  Kennedy. This program sends U.S. food overseas to fight hunger and build stability.

McGovern also has a long track record helping feed the hungry in the United States. In a Friends of the World Food Program teleconference, the question was once posed to him: why fight hunger abroad when there are hungry people here? His reply was: Why not do both? Fight hunger whether it’s in the US or overseas.

In The Third Freedom he talks about the Food for Peace program which was supported by both President Dwight Eisenhower (a Republican) and then Democratic President John F. Kennedy. Since then, it has been the main weapon of the U.S. against world hunger.

Food for Peace though is currently at risk of significant budget cuts by Congress, despite the fact that there are tremendous hunger crisis points such as famine in East Africa, drought ravaging Afghanistan, and nations like Haiti who need food to bolster reconstruction.

The charity Save the Children says the House of Representatives is proposing $1.04 billion for Food Peace in the upcoming FY 2012 budget, a significant dropoff from this year’s funding level of nearly $1.5 billion.

One of the key bipartisan initiatives discussed by McGovern in the book is the McGovern-Dole global school meals program. Along with Republican Senator Robert Dole, McGovern developed this initiative.

McGovern-Dole funds school meal projects in developing countries. The UN World Food Programme, Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and other charities provide meals using McGovern-Dole funds. This program is among those at risk in current budget discussions in the Congress.

McGovern also writes about bipartisan congressional committees, which helped improve the U.S. domestic school lunch program. Today’s representatives need to keep up the fight to ensure needy children in the U.S. can access food. For instance, school lunch and summer feeding program enhancements made by McGovern and his colleagues in the Congress need to be followed through by the current representatives.

The bipartisan cooperation that McGovern writes about is especially critical as hunger rates in the U.S. are rising. Vicki Escarra, President of Feeding America says: “The need for food assistance has increased dramatically during the prolonged and severe recession. Hunger hits every state and county in America, with one in six people facing food insecurity… strong federal nutrition assistance programs will continue to be essential.”

Funding for domestic and overseas food aid is very much on the line currently in Congress. McGovern’s book offers hope in this difficult period by reviewing past achievements in the struggle to end hunger. At the same time, he is looking forward to what should be done next to defeat man’s ancient enemy

Originally published as McGovern’s The Third Freedom: Ending Hunger in Our Time is Essential Reading as Congress Debates Food Aid at Blogcritics Magazine

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