The Hunger Challenge
The UN reports that 805 million people are hungry (2014) and the vast majority—98%—live in developing countries. Globally, as a result of chronic undernutrition, one in four children under the age of five has stunted growth (2011), which impairs development and future productivity. Today’s hunger therefore impacts the health and livelihoods of future generations in developing countries, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and malnutrition.
Solutions Needed Now
The United States has joined with other countries, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and foundations to stop this vicious hunger cycle through a coordinated, global food security initiative. In 2010, the United States launched Feed the Future, a strategy and pathway for U.S. development assistance, technical support and investments to improve agricultural systems and food security, which, in 2014, will be augmented by a Nutrition Strategy.
Overcoming the root causes of hunger, particularly in very poor communities, will take time. It is therefore crucial to continue robust levels of U.S. food assistance through the Food for Peace, Food for Progress and McGovern-Dole Food for Education programs. Wholesome U.S. foods and commodities are provided to people and regions where food deficits and hunger are persistent problems. The food is accompanied by technical assistance to reduce childhood malnutrition, to improve agricultural productivity and incomes of the poor, and to build the capacity of communities to meet their own needs. For most emergencies, bringing in U.S. food aid is necessary since too little is available and the needs are great. In cases where food is available, the U.S. can buy commodities locally or regionally or distribute cash, debit cards, and food vouchers to beneficiaries through the Emergency Food Security Program.