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House Committee Holds International Food Aid Hearings

On October 7, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held hearings to examine international food assistance programs.

Food Security and Nutrition Programs in Africa

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, focused his much of his opening remarks on his support for the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567). The bill would “help provide a long-term strategy to combat global hunger by authorizing the existing national food security initiative coordinated by USAID [United States Agency for International Development], commonly known as Feed the Future…As our three witnesses will attest, enhancing food security is also transformational in the lives of thousands of small holder farmers throughout the world, particularly women. Feed the Future teaches small-scale farmers techniques to increase agricultural yield, thereby helping nations achieve food security, something that is in the national security interest of the United States as well.”

Dr. Carolyn Woo, president and chief executive officer, Catholic Relief Services, echoed support of the Feed the Future program, saying, “Beyond the biological determinants of nutrition, we also need to address social determinants, such as gender dynamics that do not support safe pregnancy or optimal health and nutrition for young children. Feed the Future supports both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions. Nutrition-specific interventions are directed at the immediate causes of undernutrition, including adequate food and nutrition intake, feeding, caregiving, and parenting practices (optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding), and the prevention (through better hygiene and meal preparation practices) and treatment of diseases that undermine nutrition like diarrheal diseases. Nutrition-sensitive interventions address the underlying causes of undernutrition, including food security and quality, such as agricultural practices.”

The following witnesses also testified:

  • David Hong, director of Global Policy, One Acre Fund; and
  • Roger Thurow, senior fellow, Global Agriculture and Food, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Reforming Food Aid: Desperate Need to Do Better

During the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Rev. David Beckmann, president, Bread for the World, said, “[W]e should further increase the flexibility of food aid. Current law requires nearly all of food aid to be commodities produced in the United States, but this is not always the best way to help…In situations of emergency, the delays involved in shipping food around the world are sometimes a big problem. Even short bouts of hunger for children can have devastating lifelong consequences, so additional flexibility can allow nutritionally appropriate foods to reach pregnant women, new mothers, infants and young children. Also, food shipped in from outside can sometimes frustrate the development of food production by local farmers.”

The following witnesses also testified:

 

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