William Lambers: The Food Law That Changed the WorldRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: Congress, food, William Lambers, hunger
William Lambers partnered with the UN World Food Programme on the book Ending World Hunger. He is a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.
Lots of laws gets signed in Washington D.C., but how many have saved millions of lives as the one inked by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 10, 1954?
It was called Public Law 480 and with a title like that you might just skip over it and read about something else. But this law has another name: Food for Peace.
It was started because there was so much food in the United States, it made sense to avoid costly storage and move it overseas where there were hungry people.
This meant food for flood victims in Austria, earthquake relief in Chile, and school meals for millions of children in war-torn Japan and Italy. South Korea's road to recovery from its own war also included millions of school meals for children. India received the largest Food for Peace shipment ever including a food reserve to protect against natural disasters.
Food for Peace was a way to continue the amazing humanitarianism of the United States so demonstrated following World War I and II when we fought famine in dozens of countries. Food for Peace was a continuation of the the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe after World War II.
As Eisenhower said the program would "maintain our American tradition of generous help in time of need."
Today we need to remember Food for Peace for several reasons. Hunger is still threatening the world. For as long as there is war there will be hunger. Conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and other countries are leaving millions displaced and in need of food. The largest food aid organization today is the UN World Food Program. It's biggest supporter is Food for Peace.
Congress has a responsibility to maintain solid funding for Food for Peace because as George Marshall once said, "Hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace."
When reforms are needed to the program, Congress needs to add these to improve the efficiency. Supporting small farmers in the developing countries is key to the future, similar to how Catholic Relief Services is helping local food production in South Sudan.
Look at Haiti, a country devastated in recent years by an earthquake, storms and drought. Food is the foundation for its recovery.
Food for Peace has changed the lives of millions of people and is the best of what America has to offer. Let's remember this anniversary but also plan for the future. Food for Peace is still needed today as much as ever.
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