Foreign aid faces deadly cuts in federal budget

By April 13, 2011

USA (MNN) — Six months into the fiscal year, Congress is
nearly set on the 2011 budget. 

The FY11 bill was hammered out on Friday to avoid a
government shutdown, and the details of the $38 billion in cuts are still being
spelled out. The goal is to bring it to
a vote on the House and the Senate on Thursday. At the same time, the House Budget Committee
Chair Paul Ryan presents the FY2012 budget to the Full House and the

The cuts are deep, even gutting. Already, there's an acknowlegement that the
$38 billion in cuts for 2011 won't be enough for 2012. 

That makes foreign aid an easy target. Lucas Koach with Food For the Hungry says, "When asked how much of the federal
government's budget goes to foreign aid, most Americans think it's over 20%. When asked what they think is appropriate,
the common answer is about 10%. The actual amount that goes directly to
international food aid and development is one half of one percent."

In other words, even if all food aid
got cut, it would not make a dent in the federal deficit.

In FY11, $8 billion in cuts are
coming to the State and Foreign Operations budget which includes all the the State Department's functions–a move that is both disappointing
and alarming.   

In practicality, the loss of the funds is a life or death issue for
70,000 kids around the world. "As we target the poorest of the poor around the
world, who are often weeks, if not days, from real starvation, these funds can
translate to death."

In our March 7 story, we broke down the proposed cuts this way:

41% – U.S. food aid programs

67% – Office of Foreign Disaster

30% – Development assistance

15% – Global health and childhood
survival programs,

All of these were from FY10-enacted levels, according to budget analyses.

The dollar values may have
changed, but the percentage of cuts were roughly consistent with the earlier

The cuts will also impact U.S. foreign
policy and national security. Hunger breeds political instability and chaos
around the globe. Koach explains that "one
of the best proven tools is food aid, food security, and serving the poorest
of the poor as we help our government win friends and allies around the country; it allows mission groups like ourselves to care for the least of these in
our midst."

FH is trying to close the gap between perception and reality
when it comes to the funding cuts. More voices are joining that chorus. 36,000, including congressional members, recently answered a call by religious leaders
to participate in a hunger fast protesting the cuts. They were calling for a "Moral Budget"
because, Koach says, "There isn't an army of lobbyists on behalf of the poor. There
isn't a lot of political pragmatic interest protecting this sector. That's why
it's an increasing imperative to continue to implore their members of congress to
balance the budget, but not to do so on the backs of the poor."

It wasn't only a protest: it was a way of sharing the burden, on a much
smaller scale. "We know that this isn't an easy road. Fundamentally, we are
called to suffer with and on behalf of the poor. We have to trust that God is
larger than these concerns. Hopefully, the suffering will only serve to further
awaken God's people."

How the cuts will impact FH's programs is yet to be seen. However, Koach notes that the budget issue
may be just the klaxon needed to wake believers. Real change happens when God's people
respond with the hope of Christ. "It's
not just going to be a matter of passing a few pieces of legislation, but it's
really going to be God's people moving with an increased compassion to reach
out for the poor."

Keep praying for the ministry leaders who are trying to find ways to
move outreach forward in uncertain financial times. Ask God to continue to resource them, as well
as give them wisdom.


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