Donald J. Trump has made bold promises to help "the forgotten man and the forgotten woman," and he recognizes the link between global security and world hunger. Based on progress over recent decades, it is possible to cut hunger in half within eight years if our incoming president decides to make it a goal.
Here are the seven steps Trump can take as president to cut hunger in half:
- Job creation and his infrastructure initiative, with emphasis on communities that have high levels of persistent or concentrated poverty. A good job is the best way out of hunger and poverty, and improving the nation's infrastructure is critical to staying competitive. The cost of concentrated poverty is high - in terms of violence, policing and safety, poor nutrition and health, low productivity, and despair.
- Health care. Trump should continue to insist that the replacement to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) not take health insurance coverage away from millions of Americans. Health and hunger are interconnected. Widespread hunger in America contributes to poor health and adds a staggering 160 billion a year to healthcare costs. Before the ACA was made law, 1 out of 3 people with chronic medical conditions had to choose between treatment and food for their families.
- Immigration. Violence, hunger, and poverty push people from their homelands to the United States. Addressing the factors that cause people to uproot themselves and risk their lives will reduce immigration. The economy and morality of this nation are tied to our treatment of immigrants. A great America welcomes immigrants.
- Global development. World hunger is a threat to global security. In his first year in office, Trump can strengthen the U.S. government's response to states on the brink of disaster. Investing in self-help development and humanitarian approaches could make the world and the U.S. a safer place.
- Criminal justice reform. With more than two million people incarcerated in our country, costing a total of 45 billion, support for criminal justice reform has grown in both political parties. The reduction of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders would save millions of dollars, and those dollars could fund safety-net programs for people who are transitioning from prison into jobs. This would lower the risk of their return to crime in order to eat or pay for a place to stay.
- Global nutrition. Malnutrition permanently stunts the bodies and brains of one-fourth of the children in developing countries. Recent knowledge gives us inexpensive ways of reducing malnutrition. Every dollar invested in nutrition for mothers and children yields a return of 16 - and getting nutrition to hungry babies is sacred work.
- Budget and appropriations. Trump did not talk about broad cuts to poverty-focused programs during his election campaign; neither did House Republicans in their election-year poverty plan. The financial decisions of 2017 should be consistent with the God-given possibility of rapid progress against hunger in our time.
The U.S. is hobbled by sharp divisions. Racism, demonizing immigrants, and promoting deep rifts in society are contrary to God's love and contribute to the persistence of hunger and poverty. So we look to Trump to live up to our nation's ideals of inclusion and to foster respect for all people.
The world as a whole has been making unprecedented progress against hunger, poverty, and disease in recent decades. Impressive progress has taken place in all kinds of countries - from Bangladesh to Brazil to Great Britain. Our country has made progress against hunger and poverty in recent decades too, but much more needs to be done.
Pope Francis, Bill Gates, and the World Bank all agree that it's possible to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030. So if Trump accelerates economic growth and pursues these seven steps, we could cut hunger in half in the U.S. and around the world in the next eight years.
If our new president sets this goal, it would be an inspiration and challenge for all Americans and for people around the world.