International Food Aid

For more than 50 years, the United States has played an important role in alleviating global malnutrition and hunger, especially during emergencies.

This is done through a handful of international food aid programs administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

Despite the tremendous need around the world—including the ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa—Congress is considering deep cuts to these programs. We are particularly concerned about:

The Food for Peace Program or P.L. 480 represents the majority of food aid the U.S. provides to meet emergency and humanitarian needs in response to malnutrition, famine, natural disaster, civil strife, and other emergencies.

  • In fiscal year 2010, the United States spent about $1.5 billion on emergency food aid that benefitted about 46.5 million people in poor countries.
  • The World Bank estimates that an additional 44 million people have been pushed into poverty since mid-2010 as a result of the recent rise in food pricess
  • In the world’s poorest countries, families spend between 60 and 80 percent of their income on food, which means that continued increases in prices hit the world’s poorest people the hardest.

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program provides U.S. agricultural commodities and financial and technical assistance to carry out school feeding programs. The program also supports maternal, infant, and child nutrition programs.

  • With funding of about $200 million in 2010, McGovern-Dole served approximately 5 million beneficiaries in 28 countries.
  • For most schoolchildren, the one meal they get through this program is often the only meal they get all day.
  • Where school meal programs are offered, children stay in school longer and their academic performance improves. Children who are hungry have a difficult time concentrating in school.
  • In-school feeding and take-home rations improve school enrollment for girls. Educating girls in developing countries is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

What's Happening in Congress

Read the latest news on International Food Aid

In 2012, Congress must renew the farm bill, which governs federal farm and food policy—including international food aid. There will be opportunities to strengthen the nutritional quality of food aid to address the needs of vulnerable people.

As Congress looks for ways to reduce the deficit, vital international food aid programs—such as P.L. 480 and McGovern-Dole—face drastic funding cuts. Proposed cuts to P.L. 480 and McGovern-Dole would have ended food assistance for 14 million people facing hunger in the wake of emergencies and ended school meals for nearly 500,000 children in the world’s poorest countries.

What's Our Message?

Create a circle of protection around funding for international food aid programs that serve as the greatest—and often only—line of defense between millions of families and hunger.

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