Feeding the world: It’s a big job.
That’s what we took away from Wednesday’s George McGovern Leadership Award ceremony at the State Department.
The event featured wonky talk from government scientists, foreign nationals and corporate executives. But everyone was obviously only there to gawk at honoree Christina Aguilera.
The pop princess and reality singing competition judge was one of two recipients of this year's McGovern prize, an annual award that has in previous years been bestowed upon: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; ex-Sens. George McGovern and Bob Dole, Sens. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).
Clinton suggested that anti-hunger advocates are constantly battling myriad obstacles, including climate change, political unrest and rampant corruption. And she stressed that fight would continue.
“We cannot accept a world where children go hungry simply because of where they are born,” she said.
Aguilera, now a famously single mom, echoed that resolve, repeatedly stressing that securing healthy food for kids during their formative years is paramount. According to the World Food Programme’s “Feeding Minds” pamphlet, fending off malnutrition is critical during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life (conception till around age 2).
“These kids just want a chance. And it all starts with nutrition,” Aguilera counseled, adding, “I think it’s a selfish act not to [give].”
Novak impressively spouted off facts and figures about global relief efforts (it takes only 19 cents a day to feed a child in the developing world) and the logistics of raising and feeding underprivileged children, but he sounded most sincere when reflecting on what should be the shared goal of humanity.
“If there’s one thing we ought to be able to figure out, it’s how to get everyone a meal every day,” he urged.
Tanzanian agronomist Halima Saleh, meanwhile, shared the story of first meeting Clinton last year on her native soil.
She recalled how the former first lady dropped to her knees, even though she was sheathed in one of her famous designer pantsuits, to join the group in planting a sweet pepper plant. She let Clinton know that the plant, much like her diplomatic efforts, is thriving.
“Thank you very much, Mama Clinton … for your continued support,” Saleh said, adding “her forward thinking and her commitment have touched the lives of small farmers in Tanzania.”