Cong. James McGovern’s Roadmap to End Global Hunger Brings Him to Becker College
Hunger is a political condition and a contributes to international security issues, Congressman James P. McGovern told the audience gathered at Becker College for his lecture, “The Global Hunger Crisis: Roadmap to a Solution,” part of the Franklin M. Loew Lecture Series, on March 29.
A member of the Congressional Hunger Caucus, Cong. McGovern said that, in his travels to Africa and South America, “no one has ever asked me for an AK-47, but they have asked me for food.”
A meal has the power to educate, and the power to destroy. To illustrate this point, the Congressman described a poverty-stricken region in Columbia, where, thanks to a U.S.-funded program, thousands of children were going to school because they got a meal at school. A woman, who could not afford to feed her 11-year-old son, told Cong. McGovern that military recruiters say to her, “Give us your son; we will feed him.” Because of the school, she was able to say, “No. I don’t want my son to be a soldier.”
And at home, in the United States, he said, “there is not a single community where hunger doesn’t happen.”
The key element to starting off on the roadmap, Cong. McGovern emphasized, was to appoint “one person who wakes up every day and asks, ‘how are we going to end hunger?’” Someone who can hold feet to the fire; someone who can hold people publicly accountable. For now, the mandate from President Barack Obama is on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
McGovern called Clinton, “the best person we could possibly have.” Already making progress, McGovern reported that, with her unparalleled access and influence, Clinton has coordinated all the departments that have anything to do with global hunger, and she is already getting buy-in from leaders in other countries.
President Obama has supported funding for the Roadmap to End Global Hunger and Promote Food Security Act of 2009. “The president has already exceeded our expectations; he gets it,” McGovern said. He went on to contrast the $50.36 billion over five years, that would, “substantially reduce hunger around the globe and put us on the path to food security,” with the nearly $1 trillion price tag for the combined conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a long-term solution, he said, the Roadmap was a cheaper alternative to war.
Cong. McGovern talked about the need for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to agree on common principles, to stop rewarding programs that don’t perform and for a multicultural approach, in concert with other countries. The plan to end global hunger must be sustainable, accountable and able to survive natural disasters, he said.
The approach to end hunger must also be holistic, based on the needs of the people and agriculture of each region. McGovern pointed out that it was a waste to send seeds to an area where the soil had no nutrients and that our country must end its habit of continually responding to emergencies instead of taking preventative measures.
When asked what the average person could do, the congressman’s response was passionate, “Lobby; make noise. Create political pressure.” He advised people to write their congressmen, senators and the president and say, “I want to be part of the act to end hunger.”
Few people, the Congressman challenged, actually organize and act on the issue of ending hunger. “Nothing good ever happens unless good people come together and demand that change happens.”
Hunger is a political condition; we have everything [to end it] but the political will,” McGovern said bluntly. He went on to sum up the Roadmap, “If you want to create a more stable world where there will be less war, this is the way to do it.”