On Friday, Sept. 7, nearly 500 top business and policy leaders gathered in Minneapolis for the Economic Club of Minnesota’s Food Security Summit. The summit featured World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley, who gave the keynote address, as well as a panel discussion with Beasley and leaders from Cargill, Land O’Lakes and General Mills. The panel was moderated by Beth Dunford of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
In his remarks, Beasley explained the critical work WFP is doing to solve hunger globally. He then addressed the drivers of food insecurity – particularly the link between conflict and hunger. Beasley noted that about 80 percent of WFP funds are spent in conflict zones, where terrorist groups use “food as a weapon.” When families don’t have enough, he explained, they face a greater temptation to join factions promising to meet their basic needs.
“The world is never going to be at peace if we don’t have food security,” Beasley said.
Consequently, to truly solve global hunger, Beasley stated that we must go beyond feeding people and work holistically to address the problem’s root causes – including conflict.
Beasley also highlighted the key part America has played in supporting WFP’s integrated work, and how further support from our nation’s private sector is critical to boosting the agency’s capacity. Beasley noted that WFP needs more than just funding from the private sector, but also strategic engagement to improve efficiency, productivity and country governance as well.
After giving the keynote, Beasley sat on a panel with Beth Ford, CEO of Land O’Lakes; Joe Stone, EVP and chief risk officer of Cargill; and Jeff Harmening CEO of General Mills. The panel discussed each company’s approach to addressing global food insecurity, along with further private/public solutions to the problem.
Rick Leach, CEO of WFP USA, wrapped up the summit with remarks emphasizing the urgency of solving this critical issue. He encouraged the audience to get involved – reminding them of the important role they can play in ending hunger for good.
While Beasley’s keynote and the panel discussion were the Summit’s main event, the day also included a breakfast panel discussion for Cargill and General Mills employees at Cargill’s headquarters and an afternoon briefing at General Mills. Additionally, the day prior, Cargill hosted a small luncheon for local leaders in hunger-relief. During the luncheon, Leach spoke about WFP’s work and led a Q&A discussion with the audience.
“It was both informative and inspiring being with leaders of the Minneapolis community for the Food Security Summit and corresponding events,” Leach said of the occasion. “The deep level of commitment demonstrated by this community is representative of the best of America and provides me with confidence that we will end global hunger. I look forward to returning to Minneapolis soon to build on this strong foundation of support.”