Seeing that your family has a steady and stable supply of healthy and nutritious food is a fundamental commitment--and mission--of all mothers and fathers around the globe. It's a value, a need and an imperative that crosses cultural, geographic, and gender lines. And today it's a principle that crosses partisan lines in Congress, with the final passage of the Global Food Security Act (H.R. 1567/S. 1252).
The belief that families in vulnerable communities around the globe should not live in hunger or in fear of hunger--a term often referred to as "food security"--has been a core principle in U.S. foreign policy since the 1970s. After decades of declining support for farmers in developing countries, President George W. Bush sparked a renewed U.S. effort to help people feed themselves through creation of the Feed the Future program--the U.S. government's primary global hunger and food security initiative. The Obama administration has continued and built on these efforts.
Often rooted in poverty, lack of sufficient food and nutrition has devastating impacts on families and communities. Numerous studies have found links between food insecurity and chronic diseases in young children. Food aid and emergency food assistance programs are just the fundamental tools that our country uses to address the challenge of food insecurity. Building on that foundation, we support sustainable development initiatives on gender empowerment, local ownership, nutrition-sensitive programming, and market access--to name just a few of the many complementary U.S. efforts.
The Global Food Security Act--a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate and Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Betty McCollum (D-MN) in the House--is an exciting step forward in building the political will needed to end global hunger and malnutrition. Utilizing new approaches and the knowledge and commitment of a diverse coalition, the act will leverage our country's efforts under a comprehensive government strategy to combat hunger and malnutrition in developing countries. It also promotes country ownership and accountability in the countries where we work, bringing, for example, improvements to monitoring and evaluation so that taxpayer investments are implemented transparently, efficiently, and effectively.
Final passage of the act represents the culmination of years of bipartisan effort on Capitol Hill that has drawn wide support from farmers, chefs, hunger advocates, and development professionals working around the globe. This includes the efforts of countless InterAction members and partners to work with allies on the Hill and in the administration to build the needed policy consensus.
InterAction commends Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY), Minority Leader Reid (D-NV), Speaker Ryan (R-WI) and Minority Leader Pelosi (D-CA) for their bipartisan leadership on this crucial issue. Today's accomplishment also would not have been possible without the efforts of the act's original cosponsors or the leadership of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly 793 million people were undernourished globally as of 2015. This figure is down 167 million over the last decade. But there is still more work yet to be done.
Today's action by Congress ensures that the United States will continue to play a leadership role in the effort to ensure that families around the globe are hunger free in the decades to come. And InterAction looks forward to continuing its efforts to work with partners in the public and private sector in the fight against global hunger, malnutrition, and extreme poverty.
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