Page 33 - FSJ_03_12

This is a SEO version of FSJ_03_12. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
M A R C H 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
31
F
OCUS ON
H
UNGER AS A
F
ORE IGN
P
OL ICY
I
SSUE
C
ATALYZING
U.S.
L
EADERSHIP ON
H
UNGER
t was a political development
that seemed to come out of left field. In the summer of
2011, just as grim details about the famine in the Horn of
Africa began to show up on newsfeeds in industrialized
countries, the U.S. House of Representatives voted tomake
significant cuts to international food aid funding. Perhaps
even more surprising was the sizable contingent of House
members, 25 percent, who voted to eliminate all funding to
provide basic food rations to some of the poorest people in
the world.
It’s an understatement to say that the past year has been
an eventful one in the U.S. Congress and in national poli-
tics generally, full of deals, brinksmanship, rhetoric and ru-
mors. At Bread for the World, the grassroots hunger
advocacy organization of which I ampresident, we keep re-
minding ourselves to keep our eyes on the prize: ending
the widespread but unnecessary human suffering that
hunger inflicts.
Along with other nongovernmental advocacy groups, we
have been urging the 112th Congress to adopt legislation
that protects and strengthens what the United States is al-
ready doing to address the root causes of hunger — and to
break new ground. For instance, funding under Public
Law 480 (Food for Peace) literally saves lives. Its impact is
much more immediate and direct than much of our other
federal spending.
Hunger Is Not Subtle
The most recent famine in Somalia and throughout the
Horn of Africa was caused by human beings more than by
impersonal forces like drought. Such tragedies make it
abundantly clear, if anyone needs reminding, that it is es-
sential to maintain a strong global capacity to supply
prompt, effective emergency humanitarian assistance. The
kind of hunger that babies are enduring in Somalia is not
subtle. Nor are votes to zero out hunger programs. So this
is not the time for advocates on behalf of the hungry to be
subtle, either.
In March 2011, I joined Tony Hall of the Alliance to
End Hunger, JimWallis of Sojourners, Ruth Messinger of
the American Jewish World Service, and Ritu Sharma of
Women Thrive Worldwide in an extended fast to call at-
tention to the budget threats. Many other concerned indi-
viduals, including 14 members of Congress, participated in
part or all of the fast.
After the fast ended at Easter, faith leaders from diverse
U.S.
FUNDING FOR GLOBAL FOOD SECURITY IS UNDER
THREAT EVEN THOUGH STARVATION CONTINUES TO
KILL THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE EVERY DAY
.
B
Y
D
AVID
B
ECKMANN
The Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the
World, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to
ending hunger.