How Reforming Food Aid Can Save Millions of Lives

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A new bill in the US House of Representative looks to make the process of providing food aid more efficient in order to save more lives. The Food Aid Reform Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by California Representatives Ed Royce and Karen Bass, aims to reform the food aid process to utilize local food sources to supply food aid efforts in developing nations rather than the current practice of shipping food from American producers on American ships to those countries.

According to Andrew Natsios, Professor at Texas A&M University, food aid shipped from the United States to other parts of the world may travel up to 7,000 miles before reaching its destination. Natsios states that roughly “50% of the US food aid budget is currently spent on shipping costs.”

By using local sources of food, less money is needed for shipping costs and food aid can reach its destination in less time. In the current system, it takes up to 130 days for food aid from the United States to reach its destination. Local purchases, on the other hand, average 56 days. Natsios emphasizes that reducing processing time by 74 day can help dramatically in areas in desperate need of food.

Furthermore, buying local food for aid can boost local economies. Local producers cannot compete with American food brought into developing countries and sold at reduced prices. Whereas, utilizing the food that is already being produced in nearby developing countries can both provide food for the hungry and help local farmers make a living. Food Aid Reform could streamline the food aid process and stimulate foreign economies as well, thereby improving standard of living around the globe.

Overall, the changes being proposed are expected to “deliver aid up to 14 weeks faster and reach an estimated two to four million more people,” proving that a simple change in policy can positively affect millions of people in the world.

– Jordan Kline

Source: The Guardian, Foreign Affairs, Texas A&M University Times
Photo: Fair Food Field Notes

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