International Food Assistance
U.S. food aid, a vital component of U.S. overseas humanitarian assistance and foreign policy, is particularly important given todays environment of increasing frequency of emergencies and growing global food insecurity.
The United States is the largest donor of international food assistance. It has recently spent about $2 billion per year to provide international food assistance to food-insecure countriesabout two-thirds in emergency food assistance to avert humanitarian crises, and about one-third for nonemergency food assistance to support development in agriculture and related sectors.
- U.S. food aid provides crucial life-saving calories, but food rations designed for short-term food insecurity may not provide adequate nutrition during longer-term food emergencies.
- The United States faces challenges in targeting specialized products designed for the most vulnerable groups, such as children under the age of 2, and maintaining quality controls throughout the supply chain.
- Funding development projects through the purchase, shipment, and sale of U.S. commoditiesa process known as monetizationis inefficient and can cause adverse market impacts.
- Weaknesses in the U.S. Department of Agricultures (USDA) oversight of the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program limit its ability to ensure that the programs objectives are met.
- The U.S. government has set goals to improve the effectiveness of U.S. food aid and reach global targets for reducing hunger and malnutrition, but agencies efforts have been fragmented and uncoordinated.
Figure 1: Selected Trends in U.S. Food Aid, Fiscal Years 2001 through 2010