House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Nutrition During the First 1,000 Days

Photo By: Corinna Robbins

Nutrition during the first 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s second birthday has important consequences for proper physical growth and cognitive development. USAID’s Feed the Future program seeks to provide adequate and appropriate nutrition to pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children around the world who may not otherwise have access to such essential resources. On June 9, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations held a briefing and hearing to discuss the global impact of Feed the Future’s program. This hearing served as a public reminder of the importance of improving food security around the world in an effort to improve the lives of those who do not have access to vital nutrients and dietary knowledge. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Ajay Markanday, director of the North America Liaison Office of FAO, and from Beth Dunford of the Food Security Bureau of USAID.

Markanday recognized U.S. commitment to international food security as one of the largest resource partners and voluntary contributors to FAO. He emphasized the need for diversified food groups during the first 1,000 days, as well as the importance of a food-based approach to improving nutrition as a complement to the provision of nutrient supplements. Markanday highlighted the necessity of global partnerships and shared strategies among governments and other international actors in order to make further progress in food security efforts.

Dunford discussed the progress Feed the Future has made over the last six years, including acting as a whole-of-government initiative with 11 agencies to reduce poverty and child stunting in at-risk regions internationally. Feed the Future estimates they are “on track to see poverty and stunting reduced by an average of 20% across the areas where FTF works by 2017.” Dunford shared Feed the Future’s intentions to intensify existing partnerships and further include the private sector, financial institutions, and civil society to strengthen USAID’s work towards food security. She also expressed the need for additional global and domestic partners, as well as a need for a new international framework for development funding that goes beyond donor-based funding.

Throughout the briefing, both Dunford and Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Smith reflected on the importance of the Global Food Security Act as a vital step in reducing malnutrition and thus improving the physical and cognitive development of children around the world. Rep. Smith has been a continuous advocate for efforts to end global hunger, including the pending passage of GFSA, and shared his intentions to hold a Feed the Future Forum with international leaders in order to create global discourse on decreasing malnutrition. He additionally discussed holding a meeting of African ambassadors to talk about nutrition, and invited Dunford to join.

Lucy Sullivan, Executive Director of 1000 Days, extended her thanks to Rep. Smith for his leadership on this crucial issue, saying, “We are grateful to Chairman Smith for his continued leadership on promoting the nutritional well-being of women and children around the world. Through this hearing, Chairman Smith shined a light on the preventable problem of child malnutrition and the interventions needed to tackle it.”

InterAction would also like to extend our appreciation to Rep. Smith and the rest of the subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations for including this vital conversation on their agenda. We are incredibly grateful that this critical topic is being brought up in Congress and are excited to see nutrition during the first 1,000 days becoming a more widely recognized and publically discussed issue. 

This blog was written in partnership with Nikki Golomb and Caroline Peck.