Food Assistance:

Practices of the European Community and Selected Member Nations

RCED-88-102: Published: Mar 15, 1988. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the food assistance programs of the European Community and four of its members, focusing on their program operation and use of agricultural surpluses.

GAO found that: (1) both the European Community and individual member nations sponsor food assistance programs; (2) the program's primary aims are to assist the needy and reduce agricultural surpluses; (3) the Community requires members to participate in 4 of its 10 programs; (4) the programs supplement each member's national welfare program and dispose of about 1 percent of Community surpluses annually; (5) the six programs currently in operation cost the Community about $227 million annually; and (6) from 1981 to 1986, the Community provided nearly $3.17 billion worth of edible grains, skim milk powder, and butter oils to developing nations. GAO also found that: (1) the four countries it visited had few national food assistance programs because they generally provided cash benefits to the needy through social assistance programs; (2) these countries did not set specific benefit amounts for food but expected recipients to determine how to allot their benefits; and (3) the Community's food assistance programs were small in comparison to U.S. programs because of national sensitivities about stigmatizing recipients.

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