Food Aid Reform
In February 2015, the Food for Peace Reform Act was reintroduced and pitched as something that could “free up as much as $440 million annually” by making the delivery of aid to foreign nations much more efficient. While this is impressive and exciting news, it prompted many to ask the question: “What is food aid reform?”

To answer this question, it’s important to first understand the way U.S. food aid functions. Following World War II, the U.S. launched a food aid program intended to combat world hunger by taking any surplus in U.S. grain and shipping it overseas.

This program had very good intentions, and it has made an incredible impact for many people living in areas rife with humanitarian or natural crises. However, many agree that it is now time for this program to be modernized.

One of the main problems with the current food aid program is that the current law requires the government to purchase its donated food from American producers and ship food aid out on American ships. This law prevents food aid programs from cutting out the middlemen and simply purchasing food from the regions that it would be delivered to.

In the vast majority of cases, that means that the country receiving aid is given less food. Not only is this hitch in the food aid program bad for the people receiving aid, but it also adds an unnecessary extra cost to the program. A study done in 2009 by the Government Accountability Office discovered that it costs 34 percent less to buy food in Sub-Saharan Africa than to have it shipped there.

Additionally, an estimate given by the U.S. Agency for International Development states that purchasing food within the region could provide starving populations with food 11 to 14 weeks sooner than they would otherwise receive it.

So, what is food aid reform? Food aid reform is an initiative to fix some of the most pertinent problems regarding how U.S. foreign aid functions. By changing some of the laws that hinder food aid reform, this program can become timelier, more efficient and more beneficial to those who depend on it.

Jordan Little

Photo: Flickr

Global Poverty Bills

The Borgen Project advocates for global poverty bills to be passed in the House and the Senate of Congress. The Borgen Project is currently fighting for three bills that could have a massive impact on global poverty.

First, the Electrify Africa Act, introduced in 2015, seeks to provide sub-Saharan African countries access to affordable and reliable power through a plan spanning several years.

The bill has two main goals: create a group comprised of several organizations–including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), U.S. Agency for International Development, the Trade and Development Agency and the Millennium Challenge Corporation–which will help coordinate the U.S. government regarding creating reliable sustainable energy on the African continent, and effectively utilize the United States’ influence as a world power to build international support for African energy programs.

Next, the Reach Every Mother and Child Act, also introduced in 2015, seeks to end preventable maternal and newborn deaths around the world.

According to WHO, around 830 women around the world die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, such as severe bleeding, infections, eclampsia/pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure that develops during pregnancy) and unsafe abortions. That adds up to over 300,000 women dying every year, of which 99 percent of those deaths occur in developing countries.

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act would allow the United States to create an interagency group dedicated to ending maternal and child deaths in developing countries, including overseeing maternal and child health and nutrition funding.

Finally, The Borgen Project supports the Food for Peace Reform Act of 2015, which would overhaul the current U.S. programs for providing emergency food aid around the world, involving:

· improving product packaging and storage

· adjusting products to cost-effectively meet nutrient needs of target populations

· adopting new, or improving existing, specifications for micronutrient fortified food aid products to meet a population’s nutrient needs

· evaluating performance and cost-effectiveness of food products and programs for vulnerable groups, such as pregnant mothers and young children

Visit for more information on global poverty bills and how you can help end global poverty by contacting your government representatives in the House and Senate.

Bayley McComb

Photo: ABC News

Legislation is one major factor that keeps the United States strong. Without rules and regulations, we simply wouldn’t be the United States. That being said, the year 2015 has been chock full of legislation plans.

In order to be a well-informed citizen, it is important to keep an eye on the current legislation that is in review by the government. The following list will showcase just a few of the many important happenings within Congress.

1. Affordable Care Act

For the nation’s endlessly controversial health care law, 2015 initially looks a little bit like 2012, with lots of uncertainty hinging on a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. States that want to get a head start against the possibility of disruption will have to act quickly.

2. Global Food Security Act

In the last 24 years, we have seen the number of undernourished people in the world go down by 209 million people. Out of that 209 million, 203 million came from “developing regions.” This act would enable our government to craft a comprehensive strategy to enable food security, utilizing the funds, personnel and brainpower of at least 11 different departments and agencies. These organizations would then collaborate with others around the world to advance innovative, cost-effective plans with strong accountability mechanisms.

3. Food for Peace Reform Act

The bill eliminates monetization of the international food market, which GAO has previously criticized as “inefficient” and unsustainable for the recipient’s market. Removing monetization would allow U.S. aid to reach an additional 800,000 people while freeing up to $30 million per year. Under the current process, 25 cents is lost on every taxpayer dollar spent.

4. International Affairs Budget

The International Affairs Budget makes up only a mere one percent of the U.S. federal budget, but impacts all aspects of life in America. These funds are imperative for helping the world’s poor, and as global citizens, we must back initiatives that can save millions of lives both domestically and abroad.

5. School Testing

When governors and state school officials released the Common Core curriculum standards four and a half years ago, the new program was touted as a fair and accurate way to measure student achievement across state lines and cultivate the analytical skills that many argue American children will need in order to compete on a global scale.

This legislation is in no order of importance, as they are all equal in importance to help the United States facilitate positive growth both domestically and internationally.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Governing, Borgen Project
Photo: The Whitehouse


Food for Peace Reform Act
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