The United States is not alone in committing to the fight against hunger and undernutrition. Earlier this year, I visited Benin as part of the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, a country-led, global effort to eliminate malnutrition around the world. Benin is home to almost 1 million stunted children but is also one of 35 countries leading the way on nutrition as part of SUN. Benin allocated a portion of its annual budget to support its Strategic Plan for Food and Nutrition Development, which lays out effective approaches to improve nutrition security. That’s commitment. But Benin’s success requires the support of the global nutrition community.
On June 8, global leaders convened under the theme of Nutrition for Growth. During the summit, donors, businesses and foundations pledged to double spending on nutrition and deliver $4.1 billion by 2020, and developing countries set targets for increasing their investments and improving nutrition outcomes. Benin, for example, committed to reduce chronic malnutrition from 43 percent to 30 percent by 2020. The United States pledged that U.S. agriculture and nutrition programs will lead to 2 million fewer stunted children globally.
The time is ripe for the bold leadership we see in the administration’s food aid reform proposal and commitment at Nutrition for Growth summit. It is now incumbent upon Congress to do its part to support efficient, effective action. Congress’ leadership starts with enacting food aid reform. Reps. Ed Royce and Karen Bass have paved the way with legislation to modernize food aid, and we hope that they or other members of Congress will offer constructive amendments to the House farm bill when it is considered. Congress — both the House and the Senate — must get behind a comprehensive, long-term approach that feeds hungry people today and that enables people to grow and buy nutritious food, ultimately creating a stronger, healthier world for us all.
Helene D. Gayle is president and CEO of CARE USA, an international humanitarian organization.