NGO Statement of Support: Strengthening US Food Assistance Programs

Neil Palmer/CIAT
As U.S.-based charities and faith-based organizations working to end hunger, poverty, and malnutrition around the world, we applaud Representatives Royce and Blumenauer, and Senators Corker and Coons for introducing the Food for Peace Modernization Act. The bill recognizes the important role U.S. food aid plays in alleviating hunger around the world, while addressing inefficiencies in the system.
 
We remain encouraged by constructive dialogue to strengthen U.S. food assistance through both the Title II Food for Peace program in the Farm Bill and the Food for Peace Modernization Act. Our hope is that ongoing efforts by members of the committees of jurisdiction and with the stakeholder community will enable the
United States to increase the reach and effectiveness of life-saving U.S. international food assistance and agricultural development programs.
 
Ending hunger in our lifetimes is possible, but many challenges to this goal remain. Across 45 countries, some 76 million people will require emergency food assistance in 2018, 60 percent more than in 2015. Chronic hunger has also increased, with nearly 815 million people struggling with food insecurity every day. We thank Congressional champions in the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their continued support for programs that fight global hunger.
 
Importantly, because the conditions and contexts of food insecurity differ widely across the world, U.S.-funded food and humanitarian assistance programs must respond with a range of tools, modalities, and interventions including food vouchers, cash transfers, local and regional procurement, and U.S. commodities. As such, we remain steadfastly committed to ensuring that flexibilities are maintained, that the right tools are available to provide the most appropriate response, and that taxpayer dollars are used as wisely as possible.
 
The Food for Peace Modernization Act would advance key reforms that our community supports in the Farm Bill including removing the requirement to monetize in Title II programs and recognizing the role of the Community Development Fund in Title II Development Food Security Activities. These are important changes that will increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Title II programs.
 
In addition, we urge Congress to enact legislation to reduce the impact of cargo preference on food aid programs. Current requirements significantly inhibit beneficiary reach by directing more food aid dollars towards ocean freight and fewer to the purchase of food for people in need.
 
With continued learning and attention to impact, the United States has improved its global hunger response, and programs such as the Title II Food for Peace are helping people not only survive today, but also rebuild their communities to feed their families in the future. Updating food aid programs to operate more efficiently, help more people in need, and maintain strong Congressional support should be everyone’s goal. We must sustain this positive momentum and continue to work together towards ending hunger in our lifetime. We stand ready to partner with all stakeholders in a transparent and inclusive way to maximize food assistance programs.