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Let's Enact Food Aid Reform That Works | Commentary

Second, we urge Congress to continue supporting the use of $400 million of Food for Peace funds for capacity-building programs that target poor populations where hunger is a daily challenge. Congress should add flexibility to use development assistance funds to support the training and technical assistance associated with these programs. In this way, the United States gets more bang for the buck: providing food aid to people who have too little to eat as well as building their capacity to meet their own food needs through improved agriculture, nutrition and incomes. In the long run, this reduces the need for emergency food aid.

Third, Congress should increase funding for international disaster assistance to give the president greater flexibility to provide cash support to victims of disaster and to buy food aid close to where an emergency occurs — if it is available. The U.S. Agency for International Development has been using this program for the past four years, but more funding is needed because of the complex crises in Syria and northern Africa.

Lastly, legislation is needed to secure long-term support for an effective plan to cut hunger and improve food systems in developing countries, a “Global Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Security Act.” The list of challenges is long, including small farm plots coupled with extreme poverty, poor agricultural productivity and substandard post-harvest, warehousing, marketing, quality control and nutrition systems. Over the past few years, Congress has funded the Obama administration’s Feed the Future initiative, which is tackling many of these issues. However, changing the dynamics in a developing country takes time, and enactment of legislation would set the stage for longer-term U.S. engagement and support.

George Guimaraes is president and CEO of PCI, Crispian Kirk is president and CEO of OIC International, and Ellen Levinson is the executive director of the Alliance for Global Food Security, a coalition of humanitarian and development organizations.

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