TACOMA, Washington — On December 15, 2022, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act (GFSA) passed Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Reps. McCollum (D-MN) and Smith (R-NJ) introduced the legislation in the House while Sens. Casey (D-PA), Risch (R-ID), Coons (D-DE) and Boozman (R-AR) were champions in the U.S. Senate. The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2022 builds upon the landmark Global Food Security Act of 2016, reauthorizing the Feed the Future Initiative, a program introduced by the Obama administration in 2010 to address global hunger and food insecurity. This marks the bill’s second reauthorization, the first being in 2018.
The State of Global Hunger and Food Insecurity
The 2022 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report by the United Nations and its partners presents a grim update on global food security conditions. The report highlights that the world is regressing in its progress toward meeting U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 of achieving “Zero Hunger” by 2030.
In 2021, hunger affected about 828 million global citizens, amounting to a staggering rise of 150 million from 2019 — a consequence largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impacts and disruption of food supply chains across the world.
The Russia-Ukraine war in 2022 has only exacerbated global hunger and food insecurity. The warring parties are two of the most significant global suppliers of fertilizer, staple cereals, cooking oil and fuel. The supply chain disruption has caused a worldwide price hike in these commodities. The poorest countries face the gravest impacts of staggering food prices.
Developing nations, such as Somalia, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt and Sudan, heavily depend on Russia and Ukraine for supplies of grain, corn and sunflower oil. Increased prices of fertilizers have led to significant reductions in harvests in developing nations. Compounding the issue of food insecurity even further is the toll of extreme climate events on crops and harvests in regions such as Africa.
According to the World Food Programme, by October 2022, as many as 345 million individuals across 82 nations endured acute levels of hunger, climbing from 282 million at the beginning of 2022.
The Threat of Malnutrition
The 2022 SOFI report highlights that about 45 million children under 5 are enduring wasting, “the deadliest form of malnutrition, which increases children’s risk of death by up to 12 times,” according to the World Health Organization. Furthermore, 149 million children under the age of 5 suffer stunting due to chronic nutritional inadequacies.
Concerningly, global inflation has impacted access to ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) for children suffering from severe cases of malnutrition. The cost of malnutrition on the global economy is significant: $3.5 trillion a year due to human productivity losses and health care expenses, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated in 2014.
The Impact of Feed the Future
As the U.S. government’s core program to address global hunger, Feed the Future, led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), adopts a comprehensive strategy to tackle world hunger.
Feed the Future has strengthened markets, economies and livelihoods in the world’s most disadvantaged countries through comprehensive agricultural support. Working hand-in-hand with farmers and communities, Feed the Future has provided sustainable and climate-resilient solutions to food insecurity.
As a result of Feed the Future’s work over the years, about 23.4 million people have risen out of poverty and 5.3 million families no longer experience hunger. Furthermore, the initiative has helped farmers in developing countries generate more than $15.3 billion in agricultural sales. Feed the Future currently works in 20 target countries to help strengthen agricultural sectors and establish sustainable food security.
The Importance of the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act
“The high cost of food has complicated humanitarian efforts to help those suffering from food insecurity… Food insecurity knows no boundaries but is preventable, and the United States is in a position to help. I’m pleased to support legislation reauthorizing the Feed the Future Initiative… to combat hunger and malnutrition while promoting global stability,” Senator Boozman said after the introduction of the Senate bill in July 2022.
The Global Food Security Reauthorization Act reauthorizes the Global Food Security Act and Feed the Future program through 2028. The legislation will also raise Feed the Future’s funding authorization to $1.2 billion, increasing it from approximately $1 billion.
“Food security leads to global stability and the United States has a moral obligation to eradicate global hunger. The Feed the Future Initiative is reaching millions of people around the world and I’m proud to introduce this bill with Senator Risch to continue this [U.S.] success story,” Senator Casey said in a press release.
A Legislative Win
Since the introduction of H.R.8446, The Borgen Project has advocated for its passage through Congressional outreach, engaging with Members of Congress through meetings and mobilizing the public to advocate for the bill. The Borgen Project held dozens of Congressional meetings in the past few months to build support for this critical piece of legislation.
Clint Borgen, President of The Borgen Project, applauds the passage of the bipartisan Global Food Security Reauthorization Act. “This represents a significant legislative win in the fight to combat global food insecurity and progress toward SDG 2. The Borgen Project would like to thank lead sponsors of the bill and Borgen Project volunteers for their dedication to combating food insecurity and downsizing global poverty.”
— Saiesha Singh