USA (MNN/FH) — Today is National Agriculture Day, highlighting what the U.S. agricultural community is doing to address food insecurity, both domestically and abroad.
Few people realize the role that U.S. agriculture plays in addressing both global food shortfalls and food crises around the world. Lucas Koach of Food for the Hungry says the contribution is significant. “While less that 1% of the federal budget is focused on international assistance, a very small portion thereof is focused on actual U.S. agriculture products–beans, wheat, sorghum–which are used to feed the hungry around the world, mainly through three flagship programs that the U.S. government has: Food for Peace, Food for Progress, and Food for Education.”
Food for the Hungry is one of many NGOs that helps implement Food for Peace, using the best of U.S. agricultural products to address emergency needs as it seeks to end all forms of poverty so that God’s eternal purpose is revealed in each person they serve. It then couples those emergency needs with programs that help struggling communities be more resilient by developing techniques and systems to be able to feed themselves over the long-term. “The Food for Peace program has provided enough food since its inception to fill a line of trucks bumper-to-bumper stretched around the equator.”
The premise is pretty straightforward, according to Koach. Crisis-prone regions where extreme poverty, poor infrastructure, and chronic hunger exist are the focus. For example, Food for the Hungry’s efforts in northern Ethiopia help more than 300,000 individuals, providing grains and oil during lean times while working with the people to focus on reforestation, water wells, construction and maintenance of projects, and the development of planting efforts like keyhole gardens. As the land becomes more productive, the communities become less reliant on donations.
All eyes are now on The Global Food Security Act, a piece of bi-partisan legislation that is making its way through Congress. The legislation doesn’t add additional funding to the federal budget, but rather helps focus and manage the global food security strategy that’s been present through both the Bush and Obama administrations. Koach shares that the act “takes the very small amount of money that the U.S. provides toward foreign aid and food security, and makes sure its implemented most effectively, most efficiently as possible, to reach as many people as possible, and also to build these resilient type of communities that we want to have over the long-term. With the act, we can better transition from humanitarian crisis intervention to long-term sustainable development.”
The bill is still awaiting final vote in both the House and the Senate, and Koach says citizens can be part of process by doing something most people think is of little use. “Just to take 3-5 minutes to pick up your telephone and call your member of Congress. Just dial 202-224-3121 to get the Capital Hill switchboard and say, ‘I’m concerned about world poverty, and I urge my member of Congress to support the Global Food Security Act.’” Koach says that by making the phone call, concerned citizens become voices for the voiceless in the world.