General Dwight Eisehower came home. It was April 20, 1946 and the General was returning to his birthplace in Denison, TX to the cheers of thousands. But for Ike, this homecoming was more than a celebration. It was a chance to issue a warning.
Even after the great victories of World War II, there would be no peace if Europe was left to starve. Chaos, disorder and possibly another war would follow. Ike warned that food would make the difference between peace or future conflict.
The New York Times reported that Ike even “chided” a soldier for throwing away a good piece of bread at the homecoming. Food should not be wasted when it held the key to peace.
While we hope Ike was not too hard on the fellow soldier, we must listen to the Food for Peace message he delivered. For if we seek peace today in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Sudan, it is food that will form the backbone of this effort.
But the U.S. response to hunger needs a leader.
The State Department and also the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation have called for a global hunger coordinator (czar or envoy) to work in the White House. Such an individual could keep global hunger at the top of the nation’s foreign policy agenda.
The global hunger coordinator can organize the response by the different U.S. agencies involved. In addition, such a high-level position could exert influence on improving international coordination in tackling hunger.
Today, no such position has been filled at the White House, all this at at time when hunger threatens the peace and reconstruction efforts across the globe.
Roger Thurow, in his Global Food For Thought column, recently wrote, “The hunger envoy’s job is to make sure no one forgets. And to remind everyone that there is plenty of work yet to be done to end the chronic hunger that burdens one billion people in the world today.”
It’s all about a team effort. The public, particularly with its response to the crisis in Haiti, has shown it can mobilize and fight hunger. There are many able food ambassadors among us. However, the public cannot do this job alone. The highest level of the U.S. government has to be fully engaged on the issue; otherwise, the problem of global hunger will continue to drift along, ready to be passed on to another generation.
Let’s encourage President Obama and the Congress to place hunger at the top of the foreign policy agenda, where it belongs. It starts with the global hunger coordinator who can be appointed by President Obama or through passage of the Roadmap to End Global Hunger legislation.
The Friends of the World Food Program have set up a take action page for the Roadmap to End Global Hunger, or you can write to President Obama at www.whitehouse.gov.