More Flexible Food Aid Plan Would Allow Better Use Of Taxpayer Dollars
“When it comes to providing hunger relief to needy people around the world, the United States has been a leader since World War II. And if early reports about the Obama administration’s 2014 budget are true, then the U.S. will have a golden opportunity to provide even more food to the hungry while spending less taxpayer dollars in the years ahead,” Catherine Bertini and Dan Glickman, co-chairs of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Global Agricultural Development Initiative, write in a Politico opinion piece. “Now is the time for a flexible food aid program that uses our foreign assistance monies more efficiently and ensures America’s leadership in the fight against global hunger,” they write.
They describe several changes that could appear in the Obama administration’s plan, including allowing the government to issue cash-grants to purchase food aid in the U.S. or closer to the region in need and ending “monetization,” in which “the U.S. purchases and transports home-grown food commodities around the world and gives them to non-governmental organizations” to resell. “A more transparent, efficient and effective approach would be for our government to provide additional direct support to these aid groups for development projects and then monitor how the money is spent,” they state, adding, “A cash-based food aid system would support the wider goal of helping farmers in poor countries get access to markets for their produce, get higher prices for their crops and become more productive and sustainable.” They write, “Last year, a survey by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs indicated that 91 percent of Americans believe that fighting world hunger should be an important U.S. foreign policy goal. To maintain that level of support, we need to make sure our programs maximize use of taxpayer dollars and are complementary to each other” (4/3).