History’s Hunger Heroes: Harry Truman

Special Interests:Emergency Response
Programs:Emergencies
World Food Program USA
May 17, 2020

On October 5th, 1947 President Harry Truman delivered the first presidential address ever televised from the White House.

Truman devoted this television milestone to an urgent topic—Europe’s newest enemy: Widespread hunger. At that time, Europe was still struggling to recover from the destruction of World War II. Rebuilding from the devastation was difficult enough, but a harsh winter followed by drought ruined crops across the continent. Food shortages were rampant and Europe needed food to survive and rebuild.

He asked Americans to assist this effort by foregoing meat on Tuesdays and poultry and eggs on Thursdays to help stockpile grain for starving people in Europe. The following day, the New York Times explained the goal was to create a surplus of grain to be supplied as emergency food relief to Europe instead of being used to feed livestock.

President Truman said of Europe, “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.”