WASHINGTON, DC — An important piece of global hunger-fighting legislation has passed the U.S. House of Representatives: the Global Food Security Act.
The Global Food Security Act (GFSA) was introduced in the House as a bill in 2015 by Congressman Christopher Smith of New Jersey. The gist of the bill is that it would require the President to “coordinate the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategy to accomplish the objectives of promoting global food security, resilience and nutrition consistent with national food security investment plans.”
This is significant. 795 million people globally still suffer from hunger, despite previous aid efforts, according to Action Against Hunger.
The GFSA aims, overall, to reduce global hunger and malnutrition, as well as poverty. Its strategy for doing so is much more complex than simply throwing money at the problem.
Hunger is an issue that encompasses not only the provision of food, but of educating local populations in how to provide for themselves, in maintaining relationships between our country and others and in focusing on child and maternal health and nutrition. Improvements in these areas are included among the stated policies in the language of the bill.
Importantly, stated policies also include building target communities’ abilities to create their own food security, reducing their dependence on food aid, as well as making sure that U.S. taxpayer dollars are used effectively.
This proves that not only is the GFSA intended to give assistance while also helping communities learn to help themselves, but it is also intended to create more oversight in the arena of U.S. foreign aid.
Per the bill, part of the requirement of the President’s strategy is to ensure that progress is monitored. In this way, we can track the bill’s effectiveness once implemented. It also calls for regular meetings among “key stakeholders,” to include congressional committees, academic institutions, national and local governments and private sector partners to discuss progress.
The GFSA adopts what is known as a whole-of-government strategy. This means that, under the bill, the President must coordinate all the government departments and agencies involved in global food security in developing his strategy.
Each governmental agency involved must also provide their plans and budgets for carrying out their part of the the strategy, as reported by Huffington Post.
Prior to this bill, the Feed the Future Initiative fought global hunger and malnutrition but was never codified. The Global Food Security Act would carry on this work with the important provisions of the whole-government approach, oversight and other items mentioned above, while also carrying the weight of law.
According to Business Wire, the GFSA has strong bipartisan support as well as endorsements by many non-profit organizations who work in the fight against global hunger and malnutrition.
Now that it has been passed by the House, the Global Food Security Act bill will go to the Senate for a vote. If passed by the Senate, it will go to the President for his signature to become law in the United States.
If enacted, the President would be required to submit his strategy for implementing the GFSA by Oct. 1, 2016.
Photo: Bread for the World