Save the Children hails passage of global food aid reform
WESTPORT, Conn. (February 4, 2014) — Save the Children praised the reforms to U.S. global food aid included in the Agriculture Act of 2014, which passed the Senate today and will next head to the President to sign, saying these changes are good for kids. According to Save the Children, the reforms will help food aid more efficiently and effectively tackle child hunger and malnutrition.
"Save the Children is pleased to see that our nation's leaders worked across party lines to put the interests of malnourished children first by reforming U.S. international food aid. We applaud the efforts of the Farm Bill conferees and their staff, in particular Senators Stabenow (D-MI) and Cochran (R-MS) and Representatives Royce (R-CA), Engel (D-NY) and Marino (R-PA). The relatively modest but important changes to global food aid passed in the Farm Bill are a critical first step," said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. "The reforms will provide considerable cost savings, resulting in more aid to more children, greater flexibility to use the most appropriate approach available to assist people in need, and faster humanitarian response times."
The Farm Bill includes two major provisions that support the principles of reform to global food aid. First, the bill created a permanent local and regional procurement program under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allows food to be sourced closer to where it is needed. Funding for the program was authorized up to $80 million per year, compared to the pilot program that was funded $60 million over five years.
Secondly, the bill increased the allowance to use cash-based resources, such as food vouchers, cash transfers and local and regional procurement to 20 percent from 13 percent. The 7 percent increase means that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which works through anti-hunger groups like Save the Children, will now have more flexibility to choose the most efficient and appropriate approach to delivering food to children and families in need. This seemingly minor change means that hundreds of thousands more children and families will have access to U.S. food aid than before, and at no additional cost to U.S. taxpayers.
"Children need the right food at the right time to thrive. When children are malnourished, every day counts. Lacking the proper nutrients, children's bodies become vulnerable to life-threatening illnesses, and their growth and brain development is compromised," said Miles. "That is why these changes are significant for children. The reforms mean that the U.S. government and groups like Save the Children can choose the right tool to get food to children faster than it takes today."
"Save the Children looks forward to working with the Administration and Congress to swiftly put these cost- and time-saving reform provisions into place and to continuing to push to modernize our U.S. food aid program. The health and survival of millions of children depend on it," said Miles. "We owe it to the American taxpayers to utilize every dollar to its maximum benefit in the fight against child hunger and malnutrition."