Tag Archives: State of the Union

The Hill Oped: A State of the Union that fights hunger

President Trump, in his 2018 State of the Union, can make a powerful statement for feeding the hungry. The president can set the tone for the whole year in taking action against hunger at home and abroad.

With famine threatening Yemen, South Sudan, the Congo, Nigeria and Somalia the leadership of the United States is desperately needed. History shows we can rise to the occasion.

When President Harry Truman made his 1946 State of the Union, a gathering storm of famine was looming over Europe. That continent was still reeling from the destruction of World War II.  Hunger was everywhere. In his address, delivered in writing to Congress, Truman said “It is imperative that we give all necessary aid within our means to the people who have borne the ravages of war.”

See my full commentary at The Hill

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The State of the Union hunger crisis


Read the interview at Examiner.

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Hunger Emergencies Cast Shadow Over State of the Union

As President Obama delivers the State of the Union, there are hunger emergencies both at home and abroad.

At this very moment, children in Syria are starving because of food shortages caused by the civil war. Millions of families have been displaced and lost their livelihoods.

Read the full article at the Huffington Post

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Feeding America releases State of the Union on hunger

Feeding America released its “State of Hunger in America” ahead of President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight. There are 49 million Americans who suffer from hunger or “food insecurity.”

Read the full article at Examiner.com

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Hunger Critical Issue for State of the Union

Hunger in AmericaAs President Obama delivers the State of the Union address he will need to build bipartisan support for ending the great threat to peace and economic stability: hunger.

Whether in the U.S. or far away in South Sudan or Syria, hunger cannot be ignored, or placed on the back burner as an issue for others to deal with. The President needs to show powerful leadership and the State of the Union offers this opportunity.

Hunger is striking over 50 million people within the United States alone, of whom about 17 million are children. Supporting America’s system of food banks is crucial to keeping a safety net for those struggling. The food banks can then help individuals stay afloat and escape poverty through the local solutions they utilize.

Bob Aiken, president of Feeding America says, “While we understand the challenges facing President Obama and Congress as they work to address the deficit, and make decisions on spending priorities, we urge them to protect programs that help our most vulnerable citizens and neighbors put food on the table.”

Feeding America says, “With historically high unemployment and many families scraping by on reduced wages, or part-time hours, the need for food assistance in our country has never been greater.”

“We hear heartbreaking stories every day from people who come to the food pantries and soup kitchens served by the Feeding America network. Our food bank in Orlando recently told us a story about an elderly woman who walked nearly a mile to take a public bus to a food pantry and fainted while standing in line; a pantry volunteer gave the woman a ride to her home, which had little furniture and empty cupboards. It’s one of many stories our food banks hear on a daily basis,” says Aiken.

Worldwide, hunger is afflicting over 870 million people. The crisis in Syria has rapidly increased the ranks of the hungry in the Middle East. The UN World Food Programme is feeding about 2.5 million people inside Syria and is expecting to feed another 750,000 who have fled to neighboring countries.

The WFP’s biggest supporter is the U.S. Food for Peace program. Congress is not putting much support toward this initiative, though, and in fact there are some plans to reduce the funding. This would have a huge impact on the ability to respond to humanitarian emergencies such as Syria. If hunger thrives in the Middle East we can hardly expect peace and stability to emerge in that region.

In Mali, where the government is fighting off Islamic extremists, it is food aid such as the McGovern-Dole school meals program that is helping keep children healthy in a time of crisis. Catholic Relief Services is feeding tens of thousands of children there because of this McGovern-Dole grant. We should not reduce funding for these programs that fight hunger and help promote peace.

Afghanistan is another country where hunger reigns and peace remains elusive. Children are stunted from birth because of malnutrition leaving little hope for the future of the country.

South Sudan is trying to build peace with its northern neighbor Sudan. It’s also trying to build peace within, after years of tribal conflict in Jonglei and other states. At the same time South Sudan is desperately trying to save its own children from starvation.

The UN World Food Programme says that “nearly one-third of children under 5 are stunted, 23 percent are wasted, and 28 percent are underweight” in the country.

The charity Save the Children has nutrition programs in South Sudan where severely malnourished children are brought to receive a special peanut paste called Plumpy’nut. This is a special food that can rescue children from death or lifelong physical and mental damage. Save the Children has a crisis fund to help South Sudan.

These are the types of heroic food plans that save lives and form the foundation for peace. The President needs to rally the Congress and the country to end this hunger menace at home and abroad.

Article first published as Hunger Critical Issue for State of the Union on Blogcritics.

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Top Foreign Policy Goal for 2012: Feeding the Children of Drought and Conflict

As the State of the Union is upon us for 2012, let’s look briefly at history to tell us what should be atop the foreign policy agenda.

When the fighting of World War One came to an end on November 11th, 1918, there still was an “enemy” who remained on the offensive. The war had ruined agriculture and food supply systems, thereby unleashing the most unrelenting of foes–hunger and malnutrition.

Lieutenant Harwood Stacy saw in Poland such terrible conditions with infants that “looked terribly emaciated.” He said a basic item like milk “was as precious as gold.” A Polish hospital director pleaded for food for children “so we may supply the needs of these little ones who cannot comprehend why they are not fed.”

The American Relief Administration, backed by Congressional funding as well as donations from citizens, came to the rescue. Millions of children were spared a lifetime sentence from malnutrition that damages both mind and body. Without this aid World War One, which leveled enough suffering, would have led to millions more lives being lost.

All it took was providing the children meals, even similar to the “penny lunch” programs that had been pioneered in Cincinnati, Ohio in the early 1900s by teacher Ella Walsh. Another Cincinnati “penny lunch” organizer, Alice Wheatley, was also a supporter of the Red Cross during World War One. It was the Red Cross which provided school meals to thousands of children in France during the World War One years.

Now, nearly 100 years later, a different hunger crisis is unfolding that demands to be the top foreign policy priority. For hunger has started a new powerful offensive against the poor and vulnerable. Last year a massive drought occurred in East Africa placing over 13 million people at risk of starvation. That crisis is still ongoing and humanitarian aid has to keep flowing. However, there is also drought striking large parts of West Africa as well.

People in Niger, Chad, Mauritania and other parts of the Sahel region of Africa are feeling the effects of reduced harvests and high food prices. A massive humanitarian disaster waits around the corner if we do not act now.

In some parts of Yemen, a country known in the U.S. as a haven for Al Qaeda, child malnutrition rates rival those of famine-ravaged Somalia. Aid agencies, who rely on voluntary donations, cannot keep up with the growing tragedy.

In the new nation of South Sudan, conflict among tribes continues to leave many people hungry and displaced. Peace has not yet been achieved with neighboring Sudan. To add to this, drought has struck. In North Darfur, the UN World Food Programme says the “overall food security situation has considerably deteriorated compared to November 2010.” Poor harvests and high food prices now strike at a population trying to build peace.

In Afghanistan, a country devastated by years of conflict, drought hit 14 provinces last year. Low funding for aid agencies led to a reduction in food and agricultural assistance to the needy population. Food for peace therefore has a limited reach when it’s most needed.

In 2012 America’s top foreign policy objective should be to rehabilitate the children of drought and conflict across the globe. For if we do not, we give up on peace and stunt the future of so many suffering countries.

This is not an insurmountable challenge. It is far less expensive than war. But it needs to get on the agenda of our leaders in Washington and in the public conscience as it did after World War One, World War II and the Korean War. Feeding the children of “drought and conflict” is the U.S. foreign policy mission for this new year.

Article first published as Top Foreign Policy Goal for 2012: Feeding the Children of Drought and Conflict on Blogcritics.

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