Yesterday, Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Tracey Mann (R-KS) introduced H. Res. 1156 commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education Program, a unique program leveraging the strength of American farmers to fight childhood hunger worldwide.

“World Food Program USA thanks Congress for recognizing this remarkable program and for the foresight 20 years ago to bring it into fruition,” said Barron Segar, President and CEO, World Food Program USA. “The McGovern-Dole program is a shining example of America’s commitment to ending hunger in all its forms and is central to this country’s ongoing legacy of leadership on issues related to global hunger.”

World Food Program USA has a long history with the McGovern-Dole program, with the original legislation put forward by World Food Program USA Board Members Senators George McGovern (D-SD) and Bob Dole (R-KS). In 2008, the Senators were made World Food Prize laureates for their efforts.

The United States is the largest donor to the United Nations World Food Programme’s school meals program, provided primarily through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program. School meals are a critical component in breaking the cycle of hunger and poverty, increasing school enrollment, reducing the number of school dropouts (especially among girls), and improving the overall health of children.

Originally authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, the McGovern-Dole program has successfully improved the food security and nutrition of millions of children in low-income, food-deficit countries around the world in part through donations of US commodities. Since its inception, it has provided school meals to more than 40 million children in 40 of the world’s lowest-income countries, several of which face near-famine conditions.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

World Food Program USA, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit wfpusa.org/mission-history.

Hunger and malnutrition worsen across Somalia as risk of famine increases amid historic fourth failed rainy season.

Mogadishu – A historic fourth consecutive failed rainy season, skyrocketing prices and an underfunded humanitarian response have resulted in a 160% increase in people facing catastrophic levels of hunger, starvation and disease in Somalia. With no end in sight for the devastating drought affecting the country, the risk of famine looms larger than ever. An urgent increase in support from the international community is essential to avert famine.

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A new report from the Famine Early Warning Network and the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), based on a rapid assessment by multiple United Nations agencies, shows that 7.1 million Somalis (close to 50% of the population) now face crisis-level hunger or worse through at least September 2022. Of those, 213,000 people face catastrophic hunger and starvation, a drastic increase from the 81,000 forecast in April. More areas are at risk of famine, particularly in the south of the country in regions where insecurity and conflict make humanitarian access more challenging.

These figures reflect a food security situation that is expected to deteriorate rapidly over the coming months. United Nations agencies and partners are now focusing their limited resources on famine prevention to protect the country’s most at risk, as meteorological organizations warn that another below-average rainy season could follow later in the year.

“We are staring at a potential calamity; failure to act now will be tragic for scores of families in Somalia,” said Adam Abdelmoula, deputy special representative of the secretary-general, resident and humanitarian coordinator. “Somalia is in danger of entering an unprecedented fifth consecutive failed rainy season, meaning hundreds of thousands of people face the risk of famine. Famine cost the lives of 260,000 Somalis in 2010 – 2011.This cannot be allowed to happen again in 2022. It is urgent that more is done to avert this risk and done now,” he said.

Collectively, humanitarian agencies have reached 2.8 million people between January and April 2022 with lifesaving and livelihood assistance through drought assistance and famine prevention programs, but the new assessment clearly indicates that the scale of assistance currently being delivered and funding from the international community is not yet sufficient to protect those most at risk.

Food prices affecting the most vulnerable

Somali families are increasingly unable to cope with soaring food prices as local food has become scarce due to consecutive seasons of poor or failed domestic production, livestock deaths and imported food prices reaching record levels – in part because of supply chain disruptions due to conflict in Ukraine. In parts of the country, food prices have risen 140 – 160%, leaving poor families hungry and destitute.

“We must act immediately to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The lives of the most vulnerable are already at risk from malnutrition and hunger, and we cannot wait for a declaration of famine to act,” said El-Khidir Daloum, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)’s country director in Somalia. “It’s a race against time to prevent famine and the U.N. World Food Programme is scaling up as much as possible, prioritizing our limited resources to save those most at risk. But as these new figures show, there is an urgent need for more resources to meet this escalating hunger crisis,” he said.

Around 3 million livestock have died due to the drought since mid-2021, and the decline in meat and milk production has also led to worsening malnutrition, particularly among young children in pastoral areas who are dependent on local supply. As of May 2022, an estimated 1.5 million children under the age of 5 face acute malnutrition through the end of the year, including 386,400 who are likely to be severely malnourished – an increase of 55,000 compared to previous estimates.

The malnutrition crisis is likely to worsen as the nutrition situation deteriorates further in the affected areas, with children and vulnerable people the hardest hit. “This is a child crisis. It’s not only about water or nutrition, but also about children losing education, falling vulnerable to child protection issues and having poor health; all impacting their future,” said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Somalia Representative. UNICEF has supported the treatment of more than 114,000 children with severe acute malnutrition between January and April 2022. “We are treating children but now we need further funding to prevent a famine and protect the future of every Somali child,” she said.

Grim situation as humanitarian funding falls far short

The grim food security situation is unfolding as humanitarian funding from the international community has so far fallen short of coming close to what actors need to avert a famine in the country. The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 18% funded. “The support required has not yet fully materialized, and hundreds of thousands of Somalis are at a very real risk of starvation and death,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO’s representative in Somalia.

“It’s a tragedy to see the level of distress that rural communities in particular are experiencing, and we are being limited in what we can do to prevent this extraordinary suffering. We’re calling on the international community to act fast while we still have some hope of preventing collapse of livelihoods, potentially massive population displacement from rural areas to IDP camps and widespread famine in Somalia,” he said.

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Tell your representative in Congress to co-sponsor the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Program, which helps the U.N. World Food Programme provide school meals to children around the world. Simply fill out your information, and we’ll send an email on your behalf to your elected officials.

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Past letters to congress

We asked concerned supporters like yourself to email your representatives in Congress to act on legislation to help end world hunger. Here are some the campaigns and policies that you’ve helped pass.

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$5B in Food relief

We asked Congress to pass a bill that would provide $5 billion in food relief.

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Conflict & Hunger

We sent letters showing the connection between conflict and hunger, and reminded Congress to continue support for WFP.

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School meals

We asked Congress to continue support for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, which helps fund school meals globally.

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climate change

We urged members of Congress to take legislative action towards reducing climate change, which is responsible for increased hunger globally.

French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur, known as the “father of microbiology,” made a number of surprising and world-changing discoveries throughout his career—namely, the principles behind disease prevention, fermentation and pasteurization.

His research uncovered how microorganisms that cause alcohol and milk to spoil could be eliminated by merely boiling the liquid. This remarkable find helped protect household staples like bread, cheese, yogurt, chocolate, eggs, canned foods and even water, as well as the people who need such foods. Safer food brought better nutrition for millions across the world.

We might think that boiling milk and water only prevents people from getting sick, but it does so much more than that. It prevents long-term and deadly disease, like salmonella and E. coli, and has been directly correlated to reduced child mortality.

In fact, poor sanitation is often one of the leading causes of poor nutrition and stunting among children. That’s why the World Food Programme distributes pre-packaged, sanitary foods such as Plumpy’Doz and High-Energy Biscuits and even provides education on good sanitation practices. Together, pasteurization and sanitation improve the shelf life of nutritious food and help save lives.

Smarter research, better fact-finding and more innovation—especially when it comes to food and agriculture—can have a huge impact on global hunger.

As Pasteur once said, “Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.”

ANTANANARIVO – As climate talks get underway in Glasgow, families in southern Madagascar, where climate is driving famine-like conditions, brace themselves for yet another harsh year ahead as the ongoing drought shows no signs of abating, signaling deteriorating hunger.

Severe hunger has touched over 1.1 million people with 14,000 of them one step away from famine. The situation, already alarming, is set to worsen by the end of year with the number of people in famine-like conditions expected to double.

“The changing climate has meant that many families who were able to live off the land 15 years ago have now fallen into severe hunger. Families are scavenging for survival and many are living only on the food assistance they receive,” said Menghestab Haile, the U.N. World Food Programme regional director for southern Africa. “I recently met a mother who told me that she had lost her 8-month-old to seeds from cactus fruit that had accumulated in his stomach. The face of hunger in southern Madagascar is horrific.”

The drought has led to the complete disappearance of food sources leaving families visibly famished and resorting to survival measures such as eating locusts, wild leaves and cactus leaves which are usually fed to cattle. Vulnerable children are bearing the brunt of the crisis with severe hunger for children under the age of 5 expected to quadruple, crossing the half million mark by April 2022.

“The number of malnourished children coming to health centers in southern Madagascar has doubled compared to this time last year. Many of them are too weak to laugh or cry, let alone play and learn,” said Anna Horner, the U.N. World Food Programme’s chief of nutrition innovative financing who recently visited southern Madagascar. “The physical and mental damage to children due to malnutrition can be irreversible. It is heart-wrenching to see so many young minds and bodies unnecessarily suffering from hunger and malnutrition.”

Amidst the hottest decade on record, Madagascar has suffered from exceptionally warm temperatures, deficits in rainfall and unexpected sandstorms that have covered fields, left crops wilted and harvests well below average. By April 2021, 70 percent of the Grand Sud was in drought with food production only a third of the last five-year average. The forecasted dry start to the upcoming planting season means families will not be able to sow their fields immediately and their access to food and an income hangs in the balance. Adding to an already dire situation, a recent upsurge of locusts is expected to affect nearly 1 million acres of land.

The U.N. World Food Programme has been reaching around 700,000 people monthly with emergency lifesaving food as well as supplementary nutrition products for pregnant and nursing women and children. Moving beyond emergency support, the U.N. World Food Programme together with the government, is implementing long-term resilience building activities that help communities adapt to the changing climate. These include access to water, reforestation, sand dune stabilization and economic support like access to microinsurance schemes in case of crop failure.

In September, 3,500 households received a payout of $100 each to recover losses from the failed corn crop. The payout helped families sustain themselves despite a lost harvest.

The U.N. World Food Programme aims to scale up its response in southern Madagascar and urgently needs $69 million over the next six months to do so. The U.N. World Food Programme  is increasingly concerned about the situation in Madagascar and has been ringing the alarm bells over the climate-induced hunger crisis, one of the potentially many in the world.

Note to the editor:
High resolution photographs available here
Broadcast quality footage available here
More about WFP’s microinsurance programme in Madagascar here

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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