FH asks Obama to protect life-saving food aid

By April 9, 2013

USA (MNN) — Remember the fiscal cliff that threatened U.S.-based charities last fall? Your prayers are needed as pending reforms have nonprofits on-edge again.

Food for the Hungry (FH) U.S. President Dave Evans says, "Pray for good decisions to be made by our government."

Tomorrow, U.S. President Barak Obama is submitting his 2014 budget. Evans says a big change to how America helps starving nations is coming.

"It's not so much reform as it is a complete dismantling of the international food aid program," says Evans. "We have a lot of concerns about this.

"Why try to change something that's working very well?" he asks.

The United States spends $1.5 billion annually to send food to needy countries. For the past 60 years, the U.S. has done everything "in-house," from producing to shipping international food aid.

"It creates U.S. jobs; it helps the U.S. shipping industry. So it benefits America as well as benefiting poor and hungry people around the world," states Evans.

Now instead of sending food to needy nations, the Obama administration wants to send cash. Some groups like Oxfam and CARE are pushing for the change, claiming current methods are not cost-efficient.

"We really don't understand how they believe this would actually be more efficient, or even if it would continue to function as a program," says Evans, expressing concern over the removal of U.S. agriculture and shipping industries.

"There is really, really good possibility that Congress will not support this move. So the support that's there in the budget right now…will probably dry up."

If Congress approves Obama's budget, funding for the current food aid program would be eliminated. Over the next two years, approximately $1 billion would be transferred to a new food aid program operated under the International Disaster Assistance (IDA) account.

Aid agencies would use this money to buy food locally instead of shipping food from the United States.

"Trying to purchase locally works where there's food surpluses," Evans explains. "But a lot of the countries where we do this food aid programming…have food deficits."

A second proposed fund would send assistance to chronically hungry and poor communities, but not food aid. Agricultural development programs would also be cut.

"Agricultural growth is particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition," stated a 2012 report published by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). "Most of the extreme poor depend on agriculture…for a significant part of their livelihoods.

"Agricultural growth involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing extreme poverty and hunger."

In response to these proposed changes, Evans says there are 3 things you can do: speak out, pray, and join in their efforts worldwide.

Click here to contact your congressperson or senator and ask them to keep international food aid as-is.

Since 2008, FH has served more than 675,000 people living in extreme poverty in DR Congo, Sudan, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Bolivia through food aid programming. FH programs supply grain and vegetable oil for vulnerable populations, but also use strategies like "food for work."

Program beneficiaries participate in activities like terracing hillsides to increase land for local food production. They're paid for their labor with U.S. commodities, such as grain, that are in chronic short supply locally.

Click here for a complete list of FH programs and how you can come alongside them to stop world hunger.

Last but not least, pray for organizations like FH who are trying to care for the "poor and needy" around the world. Ask the Lord to give U.S. leaders wisdom in their decisions.

"Pray for that this program will continue to exist. Pray for hungry people around the world."

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