The purpose of the Food for Peace Program (PL 480) is to promote the food security of developing countries. This is accomplished by the provision of food aid to save lives, to help people recover from crises and to support nutrition and development in impoverished countries.

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have access to sufficient nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life. The four pillars of food security are adequate

  • availability of food in the marketplace or from production;
  • access to food, meaning the wherewithal to buy or otherwise obtain food;
  • utilization of food, including dietary intake and the ability to absorb and use the nutrients in the body;
  • stability, which is the ability to maintain sufficient nutrition over time.

Since its inception in 1954, more than three billion people in 150 countries have benefited directly from U.S. food aid. Currently, in 44 countries worldwide, Food for Peace provides food and assistance for millions of individuals suffering from hunger and malnutrition. It was first signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy renamed it “Food for Peace,” stating, “Food is strength, and food is peace, and food is freedom, and food is a helping to people around the world whose good will and friendship we want.”

PL 480 is comprised of three different programs:

  • Title I, Economic Assistance and Food Security.  Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), implemented primarily by developing country governments. Provides low-cost, long-term loans to developing countries for the procurement of commodities. It was the primary form of food aid until 1990, but declined during the 1990’s as donations became the norm. Title I is not currently funded.
  • Title II, Emergency and Private Assistance Programs. Administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), implemented by private voluntary organizations (PVOs, e.g. not-for-profit, nongovernmental organizations registered with USAID), cooperatives and intergovernmental organizations (primarily the United Nations World Food Program, “WFP”). Donations of commodities to address emergency needs and for developmental programs that reduce vulnerability to crises and improve the nutrition and food security of poor, malnourished populations. It is the main avenue for U.S. food assistance. Funding varies depending on emergency needs. In fiscal year 2009, Title II provided 2.4 million metric tons of commodities and the total program cost, including food aid and support funds, was $2.6 billion.
  • Title III, Food for Development. Administered by USAID and implemented by developing country governments. Donations of commodities to developing countries to support food security programs.  It has not been funded since 1994.

How it Works

Because Title I and III are no longer funded, this section focuses on the process for Title II programs. USAID issues regulations and policy guidance that PVOs must follow when developing and implementing Title II programs. Private Voluntary Organizations are also required to comply with U.S. government audit requirements. The UN is not subject to U.S. regulations, guidance and audits and, therefore, the World Food Program receives food aid according to a special agreement it establishes with the U.S. Government.

USAID provides a list of eligible U.S. agricultural commodities, including processed and value-added products, which PVOs and the WFP may request. Choosing from this list and based on their local assessments of markets and needs, PVOs and the WFP identify the types and amounts of commodities required and a schedule for delivery. Once a Title II program is approved, the PVO or the WFP is called a “Cooperating Sponsor” and can order (“call forward”) the commodities for delivery.

The USDA Kansas City Commodity Office is responsible for buying the types and amounts of commodities identified on Cooperating Sponsor’s call forward. USDA procures the requested commodities by issuing a tender to commodity suppliers and processors. USDA evaluates the commodity bids and picks the one(s) that would result in the lowest landed cost based on a combination of the cost of the commodity and the cost of shipping it to the destination country. USDA awards the commodity contract, which identifies the dates that the commodities must arrive at a U.S. port and be ready for shipping.

The Cooperating Sponsor, through a tender process, arranges for the cargo to be shipped from the U.S. port and to the recipient country. The Cooperating Sponsor is responsible for handling and management of the commodity throughout the program, including delivering the food aid to the designated populations in accordance with its agreement with USAID.