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GAO Report – International Food Assistance: Local and Regional Procurement Can Enhance the Efficiency of U.S. Food Aid, but Challenges May Constrain Its Implementation

In an analysis of the U.S. approach to delivering food aid, the General Accountability Office (GAO) compared local and regional procurement (LRP) of food aid to in-kind donations. The GAO found that LRP “offers donors a tool to reduce food aid costs and delivery time, but multiple challenges to ensuring cost-savings and timely delivery exist.” Some of the challenges faced by using LRP are: uncertain food quality, insufficient local and regional delivery capabilities, existing U.S. legislation requiring U.S. production and transportation of food assistance, and uncertain impacts on local markets (i.e. potential increased prices due to increased demand).

U.S. Officials declare swine flu a ‘public health emergency’ in the United States

Representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department for Homeland Security held a press conference detailing the U.S. response to recent cases of swine influenza A (H1N1), or swine flu. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano announced that HHS had declared a “public health emergency”. This designation enables the USG to mobilize treatment stockpiles and allocate additional resources for detection and tracking of the flu. The USG also announced that it is working closely with health officials from Mexico and Canada and with the World Health Organization to monitor the situation and the CDC has deployed staff domestically and internationally to provide guidance and technical support.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack attends G8 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting on food security

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack represented the U.S. at the first ever G8 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting in Italy from April 18 to 20. The ministers discussed a range of topics how to address global hunger, food security in light of current economic conditions, and how food policies play a central role in health policies.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announces additional $80 million in food assistance under McGovern-Dole Program

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced “that an additional 51,700 tons of agricultural commodities, valued at nearly $80 million, will be provided to children in low-income, food-deficit countries under USDA’s McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program for fiscal year 2009. This assistance is in addition to $95.5 million allocated for fiscal 2009 for the McGovern-Dole Program that were announced in December 2008.”

CRS Report – The Impact of Food Insecurity and Hunger on Global Health: Issues for Congress

From the report summary: “This report analyzes the direct and indirect effects on food insecurity and hunger on global health, reviews elements of the U.S. government response to global hunger, and identifies policy areas that Congress might examine as it debates how best to address the health needs of the millions threatened by high food prices in the 111th Congress.”