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Global Hunger

Gains in reducing global hunger have been nearly wiped out in recent years by sharply increasing prices on some of the most basic foodstuffs in every region of the world, and by the current global financial crisis. Projections indicate that the global food price crisis will be long-term and that the impact on poor people in developing countries will be severe.

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As a prominent participant in U.S. government international food aid programs, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) uses food aid, also known as P.L. 480 Title II food aid, to provide food to people who are hungry during emergencies such as wars and natural disasters and for long-term development projects in education, health and agriculture. P.L. 480 Title II food aid uses U.S. agricultural commodities to meet emergency and non-emergency food needs in other countries, including support for food security goals.

CRS has also joined in advancing new approaches to global food security including more flexibility to use cash and commodities as well as support for agricultural development.

CRS Policy Position

CRS has joined a diverse coalition of international relief and development organizations to promote "The Roadmap to End Global Hunger," a new comprehensive plan for the U.S. government to lead the international community in alleviating global hunger. The Roadmap to End Global Hunger addresses world hunger in the short, intermediate and long term and seeks to increase funding for key interventions needed to alleviate global hunger and ensure better coordination among existing U.S. government programs.

Short-term responses to the global food crisis

CRS and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are urging the United States to provide:

  • Additional emergency food aid to help hungry people around the world now. Immediate responses to the food crisis must include cash for vouchers that, similar to domestic food stamps, provide short-term relief for targeted poor families to get food they cannot otherwise afford.
  • More funding for the U.S. international food aid program to address ongoing emergencies as well as to target chronic global malnutrition. Funding levels for P.L. 480 Title II food aid will have to rise significantly to account for increased demand for food as well as costs of commodities and shipping in order to provide adequate levels of food assistance to meet both acute and chronic needs.
  • Immediate funding to support small-scale farmer production in the developing world, including funding to ensure that subsistence farmers have access to seeds and fertilizer to increase their yields in the coming agricultural season.
  • More funding for essential items such as soap, blankets, household items, clothing and shelter as part of a comprehensive strategy to assist populations suffering from emergencies.

Long-term responses to global hunger

In the long-term, CRS and USCCB urge the U.S. to:

  • Increase development assistance for food security. U.S. government food aid is not going to be the sole solution to the global food crisis or global hunger. Rather, food aid must be complemented by and integrated with long-term agricultural, nutrition and safety net efforts. The United States should partner with developing countries to help provide the necessary support structures to enable small-scale farmers to apply new technologies, benefit from better rural infrastructure, and gain access to local, regional and global markets. Long-term investment should expand small-scale production of staple food crops and empower the poor to participate in adding value locally to the crops they produce. Cash-based programs should include disaster risk reduction components to help communities prepare for cyclical disasters such as droughts and floods. Investments must also be made in post-harvest storage so that less food is lost to pests, weather and other factors.
  • Change U.S. agricultural policies. The United States and other developed nations should direct domestic agricultural spending toward farmers who need the most support so that small-scale farmers in developing countries are not adversely impacted. Access to nutritious food and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices should be given priority in U.S. government policy.
  • Respond to climate change and its impact on the poor. Many scientists believe climate change has affected global agriculture and access to food by changing weather patterns and creating droughts. CRS calls for a prudent response to climate change that minimizes its impact on the poor.
  • Make food a priority in biofuel policies. The current agricultural system should be re-evaluated in light of the needs of poor and hungry people worldwide. Access to nutritious food and the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices should be given priority.

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