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Congress Should Move Forward With Food Aid Reform To Feed More People, Save Money

“For decades, U.S. aid has fed millions overseas but the policy is stuck in a time warp and has failed to keep up with 21st-century innovations and smarter practices,” Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO of Mercy Corps, writes in a Seattle Times opinion piece. “With common-sense modifications, U.S. food assistance could reach four million more hungry people abroad each year at no added cost to taxpayers,” he states. “Yet policymakers have been reluctant to take the steps needed to make this a reality,” he notes, adding, “Congressional members … recently voted against reform.” Keny-Guyer describes how the program currently operates, and he continues, “Mercy Corps and many other humanitarian organizations would like to see an expansion in the scope of local food-purchase programs and a reduction in monetization. Both steps would help feed more malnourished people faster and give U.S. taxpayers better bang for their aid buck.” He writes, “With more than 870 million people around the globe going hungry, it is critical that food aid funding remains robust. Foreign aid is a tiny expenditure representing less than one percent of the U.S. budget, and food aid represents just three percent of this one percent.” He notes Congress is currently debating “[t]he farm bill, which will govern agriculture and food aid policies for the next five years,” and he concludes, “We encourage Washingtonians to urge their members of Congress to support food aid reform efforts. The rare opportunity to feed millions of hungry people and save millions of taxpayer dollars should not be squandered” (8/2).