Recap: Alliance and FAO Convene Policy Briefing and Roundtable Highlighting Policy Gaps towards Ending Hunger

December 18, 2018

Submitted by FAO Liaison Office in Washington

With global hunger levels on the rise for the third consecutive year – reaching 821 million people – FAO North America and the Alliance to End Hunger hosted a Congressional Briefing on how the United States can build off its historic leadership in global food security issues to end chronic hunger globally. U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) sponsored the Congressional event.

Amb. Tony Hall, alliance to End Hunger

Ambassador Tony Hall, Executive Director Emeritus of the Alliance to End Hunger, and former Member of Congress opened the event noting the importance of U.S. bipartisan support for global food security through the passing of the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act this past November. Seeking a more holistic approach to addressing rising rates of hunger, Ambassador Hall encouraged new and innovative approaches to go on the offense against hunger.

Vimlendra Sharan, Director of the FAO Liaison Office in Washington DC, reiterated that fast tracking and scaling-up actions are essential if we are to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal—to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030—despite the impacts of climate change and conflict.  A panel discussion moderated by Rebecca Middleton, Executive Director of the Alliance to End Hunger, followed the opening remarks.

Beth Dunford, Assistant to the Administrator of the USAID Bureau for Food Security and Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future, indicated that the U.S. government has been leading and delivering success on addressing food insecurity. Since the Feed the Future program began in 2008, it has lifted 23.4 million people above the poverty line and 3.4 million more children are free from stunting. USAID data shows the bill for humanitarian assistance is growing but Dunford noted that each dollar spent on agricultural development saves three food aid dollars later on.  USAID is currently working on elevating and integrating resilience and nutrition within the Feed the Future initiative to enrich agriculture development programs.

John Ellenberger, Senior Vice President, International Development at Land O’Lakes, Inc. emphasized that greater awareness around the return on investment on overseas assistance in needed among U.S. stakeholders to increase the efficacy of each dollar spent on development. He also affirmed that private sector engagement and inclusion is central to the success of agricultural investments and the creation of market opportunities.

Noam Unger, Vice President of Global Development Policy and Learning at InterAction, noted the strong, vibrant community of diverse stakeholders that are committed to the issue of ending hunger, especially on the Hill. However, Noam explained that to sustain a bicameral, bipartisan network of support for ending hunger, providing congressional education will be essential for staff and Members, in addition to providing focus. This will require deep, integrated collaboration between U.S. and global agencies and the private sector he added. He highlighted a new toolkit called “Aid Delivers” to help newly elected Members of Congress familiarize themselves with poverty and food security issues and interventions.

Asma Lateef, Director of the Bread for the World Institute, highlighted the efforts underway to elevate the importance and urgency of nutrition through the Scaling Up Nutrition initiative and the need for greater investments around nutrition. The Nutrition for Growth Summit in Japan in 2020 is a key opportunity for stakeholder engagement on the issue globally.

Overall, the discussion underlined the importance of continuing to support holistic and bipartisan efforts for food security and building resilient food systems, especially in humanitarian settings, to provide people nutritious food and end hunger and malnutrition nationwide and globally.