History’s Hunger Heroes: JFK

Special Interests:Policy
World Food Program USA
June 18, 2020

In his earliest days in the White House, President John F. Kennedy recognized the importance of solving hunger abroad as well as at home.

“This vast world-wide shortage of food is one of the major obstacles to world peace,” Kennedy proclaimed in 1960, during his presidential campaign. He also stated that, “Only America has too much food in a hungry world.”

Sure enough, as soon as he assumed office as President in January, 1961, he got to work. Kennedy expanded the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, a 1954 law that “laid the basis for a permanent expansion of our exports of agricultural products with lasting benefits to ourselves and peoples of other lands.” Kennedy also termed the law “Food for Peace,” which it’s known as today.

“Food is strength, and food is peace, and food is freedom,” Kennedy said, “and food is a helping hand to people around the world whose good will and friendship we want,”

That same year, under his leadership, the United Nations World Food Programme was founded was founded to feed the most vulnerable families across the globe. Decades later, it’s still feeding millions of people in desperate need.

On June 4, 1963, five months before he died, Kennedy addressed the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization’s World Food Congress. “For the first time in the history of the world we do know how to produce enough food now to feed every man, woman, and child in the world…” Kennedy said. “We have the ability, we have the means, and we have the capacity to eliminate hunger from the face of the earth in our lifetime. We only need the will.”

Kennedy’s time on earth may have been cut short, but his impact on the world’s hungry will live forever.