RAYMOND, Maine — The Global Food Security Act of 2016 hit its sixth anniversary of being law on July 20, 2022. As the anniversary of the bill’s enactment came and went, it prompted current lawmakers to propose reauthorizing the bill. New language has been needed in Reauthorizing the Global Food Security Act of 2016 to reorient the focus of the bill and modernize it in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring food costs crippling those already struggling to provide food even more.
Progress Since The Global Food Security Act of 2016
“Food security” means access to healthy, nutritious, affordable food. In 2016, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (the FAO) estimated the number of people lacking food security to be 805 million.
Food insecurity is tied directly to insufficient funds to afford food, i.e., living in poverty. Unfortunately, while there has been some progress, the number of people living with food insecurity in 2020 seems to have reached 811 million. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations (U.N.) have found the leading factors of the changes in food insecurity to be the remaining damages done by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic increased consumers’ food demands and made the projections of diminishing food insecurity and poverty rates by 2030 nearly impossible. The pandemic raised food prices internationally, effectively dismantling a significant portion of the work that had been done by the WFP and the U.N. whereas the estimated number pre-COVID-19 pandemic of individuals living with food insecurity decreased slightly into the 700 millions, the latest count of food insecure individuals has risen by at least 30 million since the pandemic began. The new figures are leaving organizations scrambling to secure further funding to battle food prices.
Feed the Future (FTF), a U.S. government initiative started by President Obama in 2010, combats world hunger and global poverty. It secures much of its annual funding from the Global Food Security Act of 2016. Of the original individuals and areas surveyed, FTF has reported a boost of 23.4 million individuals and 5.2 million families no longer living below the poverty line or suffering from food insecurity.
One key area that has shifted to become a focus of the FTF and similar organizations is West Africa, where food insecurity has at least quadrupled, according to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC). The reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act of 2016 has new wording that will help fund new programs to target these areas.
Proposed Changes to The Global Food Security Act of 2016’s
Reauthorizing the Global Food Security Act of 2016 involves a few significant changes, most of which strengthen the bill’s language to make it more comprehensive. It tightens the language from the 2016 bill that highlights the health, economic and agricultural issues that stem from food insecurity, both local and global. The rest of the changes to the bill are primarily affect the amount of appropriated funds to fulfill the purpose of the Act.
The new bill’s language explores additional implications of food insecurity’s impact on children and adults. “In the case of children, [food insecurity’s impact]is characterized by being too thin for their height with weakened immunity, increasing their risk of death due to greater frequency and severity of common infection, particularly when severe.”
Reauthorizing the Global Food Security Act of 2016 includes language describing efforts to tackle food security issues by supporting local agricultural movements. Section 2 subsection C of the bill amends its previous statement with: “Creating sustainable entrepreneurship opportunities related to agriculture and food systems, including among youth populations, linked to local, regional and international markets.”
Section 6 of the reauthorization of appropriations of the Global Food Security Act of 2016 includes an increase of at least $99.4 million. The new total of appropriated funds is $1.1 billion, which could come in handy as the funds can either increase the amount allocated for FTF or open door to new initiatives to combat food insecurity.
How Will the Reauthorization of the Global Food Security Act of 2016 Help?
While the Global Food Security Act of 2016 will not halt crushing food prices or solve all food supply chain struggles, it will help NGOs and FTF keep pace with the market and provide adequate financial support.
Reauthorizing the Global Food Security Act of 2016 is critical as the original Act expires within a year. The new bill extends the amount of time the Act is valid (2023-2028.) The increased funds are a necessity, as pointed out by the WFP. The WFP has stated that to reach even a fifth of the 828 million people suffering from food insecurity currently, it requires $22.2 billion in funding.
With any additional funding, including the extra $99.4 million, the U.S. can assume some of the extra work of combatting food insecurity from the WFP. A more equal workload between the U.S. and international organizations could make it easier to achieve the goals to gradually fight and stop food insecurity. If the United States can take some of the burdens off the WFP, the workload to combat food insecurity could be more equitable, and accomplishing tasks could be easier.
This bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Global Food Security Act of 2016 is comprehensive and has overwhelming support from within the U.S. and globally. It has gathered support from Oxfam and WFP and all organizations dedicated to ending global food insecurity and effectively saving the lives of those suffering from starvation.
Reauthorizing the Global Food Security Act of 2016 will lift people out of poverty into healthier lives. It can restart local economics leading to a ripple effect that benefits all, regardless of their food security status.
– Clara Mulvihill