Sen. Jerry Moran: Why Feeding the World Is in America’s Best Interest

World Food Program USA
Published July 16, 2019
Last Updated July 1, 2021

Throughout our nation’s history, leaders from across the aisle have dedicated their careers to ending global hunger. Senator Jerry Moran from Kansas is one of those leaders. Senator Moran is chair and co-founder of the Senate Hunger Caucus and a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, and throughout his career, he has worked with the World Food Programme to implement programs and policies that promote food security. We recently sat down with Senator Moran to learn more about his commitment to feeding hungry families across the world.

WFP USA: Why do you personally care about global food security?  

JM: The call to feed the world has been answered by so many Kansans before me. Each of us is taught at a young age that it is our duty to help those in need. Kansans take that moral responsibility to heart. As individuals, we help our neighbors. Through churches and local organizations, we feed our communities. And as a country, America leads the world in providing food for millions of people in need of assistance around the globe.

WFP USA: Imagine you’re hosting a town hall meeting in Kansas and you’re met with skepticism about global engagement generally or food aid in particular. Why should Kansans and the rest of America care about global food security? 

JM: American farmers are linked to global markets and, by extension, to the wellbeing of people everywhere. Today, 821 million people around the world suffer from chronic hunger. About 113 million are facing immediate, life-threatening hunger. America’s international food assistance programs build stronger markets and more stable societies. They also provide a reliable market for American farmers right now when they need it most.

Food security also contributes to our national security. When governments cannot feed their own people, chaos and violence often follow. Food assistance provided by the United States leads to greater stability in regions of the world important to America’s strategic interests. When parents have access to food, they can provide a better future for their children. And when hunger no longer impedes a child’s ability to learn, they can remain and thrive in school, leading them down a path to greater opportunities.

While our country’s collective moral convictions make fighting hunger the right thing to do, the benefits we receive as a nation from reducing global food insecurity also make it the smart thing to do.

WFP USA: America has always been a leader in the fight against global hunger. Looking back at our history of hunger relief, what are key U.S. policies and programs that have made a big difference in reducing hunger abroad?  

JM: Kansans in particular have a long history of leading the fight to end global hunger. Most notably, Senator Bob Dole from Kansas worked to expand our nation’s efforts to provide food to the most vulnerable populations around the world, including young school girls, through the Dole-McGovern Food for Education Program. It is an honor to continue this tradition and example set by Senator Dole as we continue the fight against hunger.

And, of course, Food for Peace has also been instrumental in fighting global hunger.

WFP USA: Let’s look specifically at the Food for Peace Program. This year marks its 65th anniversary. What role has this program played in addressing global hunger?  

JM: Since Food for Peace was signed into law 65 years ago by President Eisenhower, a native Kansan, it has reached over 4 billion people in the world. Food for Peace is the cornerstone of U.S. international food aid programs. It provides U.S.-grown food to hungry people in some of the most dangerous and hardest to reach areas in the world, including in conflict zones. From the aftermath of the Korean War to conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia today, Food for Peace continues to provide hope for people who have nowhere else to turn. With several areas of the world facing famine or near-famine conditions today, Food for Peace has never been more important to addressing global hunger.

WFP USA: How are you currently working to fight global hunger? Are there any pieces of related legislation that you’re passionate about passing to advance this cause?  
JM: As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I work to prioritize funding for our international food aid programs, including Food for Peace and Dole-McGovern. Each year, Congress must decide how to allocate limited funds among many important policies across government. I fight for international food aid programs to be at the top of the priority list because these programs help save lives around the world, contribute to global stability and provide important markets for American farmers.

WFP USA: Sen. Moran, you serve a large agriculture producing state. How do you see food assistance programs creating and expanding markets for U.S. agriculture products?  
JM: Kansas is a top wheat, sorghum and beef producing state. We also grow corn, soybeans and cotton, and are one of the fastest growing dairy production states in the nation. Kansans’ ability to earn a living in rural areas is by exporting the food and fiber we grow to consumers around the world. Through international food aid programs, we are helping to connect the bounty of food that farmers and ranchers produce in Kansas with people facing starvation around the world.

Good harvests, coupled with a lack of markets, have made large stockpiles of grain a familiar site across the state in recent years. I pulled over to the side of the road to take a photo in Kensington, Kansas of a huge pile of sorghum on the ground because all of the grain elevators were full. I’ve shown that photo to President Trump, Secretary Perdue and others to illustrate the importance of export markets for Kansas farmers and ranchers. The photo has also raised the question – how do we do better at getting the large amounts of food we grow in Kansas to people who are facing hunger and starvation?
WFP USA: What is your hope for the future of America’s role in global food security?  What do you think we need to do as Americans to ensure that everyone across the world has the food they need to not only survive, but also reach their full potential?  

JM: In my lifetime I believe we can end hunger, malnutrition and achieve food security across the world. We can accomplish this if America continues to lead the world in combatting hunger. This is an issue in which the morally correct thing to do is also what’s in the best interest of our country. By continuing to invest in Food for Peace, Dole-McGovern and other international food-aid programs, we will save lives around the world and reduce conflict by promoting greater social and economic stability.