CRS Commemorates 50 Years of Food for Peace

Catholic Relief Services
Tuesday, 20 April 2004

This week, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) joins the USDA and the American private voluntary organization (PVO) community in celebrating the 50th anniversary of Public Law 480, the Food for Peace program.

Signed into law in 1954 by the Eisenhower administration, the program aims to promote peace by alleviating hunger through a unique partnership involving the United States government, American farmers, millers, packagers, shippers and the PVO community. Since 1954, more than 72 million metric tons of food assistance have been delivered, touching 750 million lives around the world.

Speaking in Kansas City on behalf of the Coalition for Food Aid—a group of 16 PVOs that promote overseas development through food assistance—CRS President Ken Hackett stated, "food aid allows us to meets the needs of people today while helping them prepare to meet their own needs with their own resources tomorrow."

Food assistance serves as a critical component for programs as wide-ranging as maternal health, children's education, infrastructure improvement and building democracy overseas. In each instance, the food provides a source of nutrition while enabling local communities to participate and direct their own development.

Hackett cautioned that the future held challenges undreamed of when Food for Peace began. He noted the rise in global insecurity and the far-reaching effect of HIV/AIDS on the developing world, as well as questions surrounding trade and genetically modified crops.

He also asserted the need for American PVOs to have continued and central involvement in food aid in a time when contractors and international agencies are assuming a larger role in program implementation. "We represent the diversity of America, a value beyond what can be tallied in a shareholder's report; maintaining this is essential to keeping an American face on American aid."

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