Trump’s NFL Tirade Is a Distraction from Real News – Like the World Hunger Crisis

News Abroad
tags: NFL, Puerto Rico, Trump

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Programme on the book Ending World Hunger. He writes on the Huffington Post, the Hill and many other news outlets. He is a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.

President Trump's feud with the NFL is taking much needed attention away from a hunger crisis at home and abroad. Trump needs to stop his reality TV approach to the presidency and start showing leadership. 

The recent hurricanes have caused humanitarian emergencies in Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and many other areas. Storm hit states and territories will need food for months to come and agricultural rehabilitation, among many other needs. 

Across the globe we have famine threatening four nations (Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria) and severe hunger in many others including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Ethiopia, Haiti, Ukraine. 

Hunger threatens lives and stability at home and abroad. When Trump makes speeches and tweets against NFL stars and their basic right to protest, it takes time and the spotlight away from a hunger emergency which demands attention. We should expect better from our president. 

History provides us an example. 

Seventy years ago President Harry Truman brought the issue of world hunger to the forefront. On September 25, 1947 Truman held a press conference announcing a report on drought and food shortages in Europe. This drought was devastating for those nations as they tried to recover from World War II. 

Days later the first live televised address ever from the White House took place. Truman again talked about hunger in Europe telling the nation: "I know every American feels in his heart that we must help to prevent starvation and distress among our fellow men in other countries.....Their most urgent need is food. If the peace should be lost because we failed to share our food with hungry people there would be no more tragic example in all history of a peace needlessly lost."

The same words could be used today by Trump because world peace today depends on how we fight hunger. No foundation for peace in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen will be found if people are starving. Truman knew that in 1947 and so did former Army Chief and Secretary of State George Marshall who said "hunger and insecurity are the worst enemies of peace." 

Truman encouraged the American people on taking action against hunger. The public responded. The Friendship Train traveled across the country in the fall of 1947 collecting donations in cities and towns. This food was shipped overseas to feed children in Europe. People bought CARE packages for the hungry overseas. 

During the holidays of 1947 Americans put an extra plate at their dinner tables and fed a "silent guest" by making a donation for hunger relief. The Congress approved a critical interim food aid bill which preceded the Marshall Plan, which ultimately rebuilt Europe. 

All this happened because the leadership and the public became engaged on this critical issue of hunger. Why can't we see this today?

Trump has to drop the mean spirited rhetoric and insulting tirades, like the one he did against the NFL. He needs to focus on the issues that matter, with hunger at home and abroad a top priority. Not only do we have the disaster in Puerto Rico in our backyard, but also our neighbor Mexico had an earthquake. 

Mexico needs our help to recover from the earthquake and also to defeat the poverty that leads to migration.  Our relationship with Mexico won't be improved by building a border wall, but rather in defeating hunger and poverty. 

In the United States, improving our food and nutrition programs will also improve our health care system. Better nutrition means healthier and more educated citizens in our country, and less of a strain and cost on the health care system. Ending child hunger, for example, would be a major step toward improving our health care. 

President Trump, working with the Congress, clearly needs to do more to fight hunger. It’s an enormous challenge, but if you hold the office you must take it on. 

Emergency aid for hurricane affected areas, food assistance for all states and increasing international hunger relief must to be top on the agenda. The President should drop plans to eliminate the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole school lunch programs. Those programs should have their budgets increased at a time of a global hunger crisis. At home our food stamp (SNAP), school feeding programs and Farm to School/Pantry initiatives should be given more support. 

It’s sad to see the country becoming so divided and angry such as we saw during the latest Trump feud with the NFL. It becomes tragic when so many people at home and abroad are struggling to get food and other basics. We need to get the focus back on them. We must feed all those who are suffering from hunger.

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