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U.S. Government Food Aid Programs

In 1996, the U.S, and about 180 world leaders pledged to address global food insecurity and nutrition, specifically making a commitment to halve the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015. In 2000, they reaffirmed this commitment with the establishment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and, more recently, at the World Summit on Food Security held in Rome, Italy, in November 2009.

In 2010, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that a total of 925 million people worldwide are undernourished, of whom 88 percent live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of two are among the most vulnerable groups at risk of undernourishment.

The U.S. provided nearly $2.3 billion to alleviate world hunger and support development in 2010. This amount accounted for more than half of all global food aid supplies, making the U.S, the single largest donor of food aid.

The U.S. several different programs to deliver food aid: Public Law 480 Title II; Food for Progress; the McGovern- Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program; and the Local and Regional Procurement Project. Three of these programs allow for monetization: Title II (renamed Food for Peace), Food for Progress and McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition.

This assistance is provided through both monetization and direct distribution, where commodities are provided directly to beneficiaries through implementing partners.

The global food price crisis in 2007 and 2008 spurred new initiatives to address the growing prevalence of hunger, and this year, high food prices are renewing concerns over their impact on food security and political stability in a number of developing countries around the world.

In 2009, the administration announced the U.S. Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative, subsequently renamed Feed the Future, which is the U.S. government-wide strategy to address global hunger and food security. The U.S. pledged to provide at least $3.5 billion for agricultural development and global food security over three years.

Government programs provide food distribution activities with different target groups of beneficiaries: (1) general food distribution, (2) supplementary feeding and (3) therapeutic feeding programs. Supplementary feeding programs address moderate acute malnutrition rates, whereas therapeutic feeding programs address severe acute malnutrition and are usually administered by medical professionals.

Over the past decade, wheat, corn, sorghum, rice, soy, vegetable oil, peas, beans and lentils have made up the vast majority of U.S. food aid commodities. Wheat, corn, sorghum, rice and soy are often processed, fortified or enriched into products such as corn soy blend (CSB), wheat soy blend (WSB), fortified wheat flour, fortified cornmeal and vitamin-A fortified vegetable oil. CSB is often used to treat moderate malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies in underweight children. CSB is the most commonly programmed specialized product in supplementary feeding programs. According to U.S. Agency for International Development data, from 25 to 33 percent of U.S. food aid commodities are enriched, blended or fortified with micronutrients annually, and these products comprise a minimum of 25 percent of the total tonnage of food aid commodities procured for emergencies.*

NAMA members produce CSB, wheat flour, bulgur wheat and soy fortified bulgur, corn meal and soy fortified corn meal, wheat soy blend and sorghum grits. All these fortified and blended foods are enriched and fortified with vitamins and minerals to make them the most nutritionally valuable items in the U.S. food aid commodity list.

*Source: “International Food Assistance,” GAO-11-491, May 2011.

Last updated August 2011

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