Thursday, November 06, 2008

Two former US Senators receive World Food Award

Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern each worked in the Senate, each ran unsuccessful campaigns for President, and each launched a program that helps to feed thousands of poor children around the world.

The two former senators were recognized with the World Food Prize today for their launch of the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program.

The Delta Farm Press gives us a history of the program.

In the late 1990s, McGovern and Dole worked with President Bill Clinton to establish a pilot program to provide poor children throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe with school meals.

A two-year pilot program, the Global Food for Education Initiative, was established in 2000. Based on the success of the pilot, in 2002 Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (known as the McGovern-Dole Program).

The McGovern-Dole Program has spurred increased commitments from donor countries for school feeding and has renewed support from development leaders. The G8 and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) have listed school feeding as a specific intervention in their action plans for poverty alleviation, and the UN Millennium Project included school feeding as one of its 10 key recommendations for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Because hungry children have difficulty learning, the McGovern-Dole Program has had a remarkable educational impact, said Quinn. In addition to increasing school enrollment, school-feeding programs have been shown to improve cognition and overall academic performance and overcome gender inequalities in literacy and access to education. While young girls in developing countries are often kept out of school to work in the home, they are much more likely to be allowed — even encouraged — to enroll in schools with feeding programs.

The success of the program has led to dramatically increased international support for the expansion of school-feeding operations in developing countries around the world. As one example, the UN World Food Program’s school-feeding operations have nearly doubled since 2001; in 2006 alone, it fed more than 20 million children in 74 countries.

“Senators McGovern and Dole are tireless champions in the battle against hunger, and are an enormous inspiration,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Program. “They have given millions of children a chance to dream — and to live healthy lives — through school feeding.”

Since 1986, when the World Food Prize was conceived by Borlaug, it has honored outstanding individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world. Previous laureates have been recognized from Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Denmark, India, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Nations and the United States.

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