The World Food Prize Foundation

2008: Dole and McGovern

Hon. Robert Dole &
Hon. George McGovern

UNITED STATES

Former U.S. Senators George McGovern and Robert Dole were selected to receive the 2008 World Food Prize for their inspired, collaborative leadership that has encouraged a global commitment to school feeding and enhanced school attendance and nutrition for millions of the world’s poorest children, especially girls.

 

 

 

 

Hon. Robert Dole

Robert Joseph “Bob” Dole was born in 1923, in Russell, Kansas. Later in life, he spoke movingly of the hunger he witnessed growing up during the Depression. He studied at the University of Kansas before military service in World War II interrupted his studies.  During active duty as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he was seriously wounded and received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster for heroic achievement. After the war, he continued his college studies and earned a B.A. and LL.B. from Washburn University in 1952.

                                                                                                                             

Dole spent 35 years in Congress, with his first election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1960 from his home state of Kansas. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1968. Dole ran as U.S. President Gerald Ford’s vice presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election and was the Republican Party candidate for President in 1996.

Throughout his distinguished career, Senator Robert Dole, working hand-in-hand with his colleague, Democratic Senator George McGovern, dedicated himself to the elimination of hunger at home and abroad.

In the 1970s, as leaders of opposing political parties, Dole and McGovern worked together to reform the Food Stamp Program (later known as SNAP), expand the domestic school lunch program, and establish the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

DurIng the following decades, Senators Dole and McGovern built a broad, non-partisan consensus in the U.S. Congress in support of anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. By the early 21st century, the national school lunch program they fostered was providing meals to approximately 30 million children across the United States.

In the late 1990s, building upon their successes in reinvigorating U.S. food- and poverty-assistance programs, Senators McGovern and Dole began working toward reviving and strengthening global school feeding, nutrition and education programs. They were committed to creating a program that would provide poor children with meals at school in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Hungry children have difficulty learning, and malnutrition often leads to permanently stunted physical and cognitive development. As many as 300 million children are chronically malnourished due to the cycle of hunger and poverty. Traditionally, young girls in many developing countries are often kept out of school to work in the home performing childcare, elder care, and other domestic chores, or are sent out to earn a living. This has caused great gender inequalities in literacy and access to education.

U.S. President Bill Clinton supported the senators’ initiative and, in July 2000, his administration established a two-year pilot program, the Global Food for Education Initiative (GFEI), funded at $300 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture administered the program, which initially provided nutritious meals for children in 38 countries.

Under the GFEI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided surplus agricultural commodities to school feeding programs operated by international organizations including the U.N. World Food Programme, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Joint Aid Management, and the American Red Cross, as well as to the governments of countries that had made commitments to providing universal education.

School enrollment increased as a result of the GFEI, particularly for girls. More broadly, the benefits of school feeding programs have been shown to include improved cognition and better all-around academic performance; increases in local employment and parental involvement in school activities; and participation by local governments in supporting school feeding efforts.

With the strong support and urging of Senators Dole and McGovern, Congress passed legislation establishing a permanent international school feeding program. In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush officially signed into law the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (known as the McGovern-Dole Program).

This hallmark effort fed millions of children in schools across the globe in 41 countries. Between 2002 and 2008, the program boosted school attendance by an estimated 14 percent overall, and by 17 percent for girls.

The success of the McGovern-Dole Program encouraged development leaders to renew their interest in and support for school feeding. School feeding was highlighted in the U.N. Millennium Project’s ten key recommendations for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. With increased funding, the U.N. World Food Programme’s global school feeding initiative – the world’s largest such program – reached more than 20 million children in 74 countries in 2006. Eleven million of these were in Africa, and over 50 percent of them were girls.

The McGovern-Dole Program has had a wide impact by reigniting global interest in supporting school feeding, which had become a relatively low international priority by the 1990s. Leaders of various international organizations cited the McGovern-Dole Program as the key factor that allowed organizations to increase their school feeding operations and also assess the impact of those programs. The proven success encouraged increased commitments from various donor countries for school feeding.

For the millions of children it has touched in the past, and the millions who will benefit in the future, the McGovern-Dole Program and other collaborative school-feeding initiatives showed it’s possible to break the cycle of hunger and poverty and provide life-altering opportunities through education and improved health. For their extraordinary work, the Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern were awarded the 2008 World Food Prize.

Senator Dole received numerous honors and awards throughout his life. In 1997, Senator Dole received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Other celebrated honors include the Presidential Citizens Medal (the nation’s second highest civilian award), the Distinguished Service Award from the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, the American Legion's prestigious Distinguished Service Medal, the Horatio Alger Award from The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, the U.S. Defense Department’s Distinguished Public Service Award, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Teddy Roosevelt Award. Also, in 2004, Senator Dole received the Golden Medal of Freedom from the President of Kosovo for his support of the protection, freedom, independence and democracy of Kosovo.

Senator Dole’s record of public service includes numerous distinguished appointments, including advisor for the U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, member of the National Commission on Social Security Reform, and member of the U.S. National Commission for the U.N. Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He also served on the Advisory Board of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The path-breaking accomplishments of the 2008 Laureates continue to inspire leaders both in the United States and across the globe to move their efforts forward to ever-greater heights, with the goal to end world hunger.

 

Hon. George McGovern

The son of a Wesleyan Methodist minister, George McGovern was born in South Dakota in 1922. Throughout his life, he spoke of the motivation provided by his mother, and seeing poor, hungry children during the Depression. McGovern’s proficiency in high school debate won him a scholarship to Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, and he began his studies there in 1940. World War II interrupted his education in 1943. He flew 35 combat missions as a B-24 bomber pilot in Europe and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. After the war, he returned to Dakota Wesleyan University, graduating in 1946. McGovern then attended Garrett Seminary for one year before enrolling at Northwestern University in Chicago, where he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in American history and government.

 

McGovern returned to Dakota Wesleyan University in 1950 as a professor of history and political science. He taught until 1955, when he began his political career by reorganizing the South Dakota Democratic Party. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1956 and re-elected in 1958.

In 1960, after losing his first bid for the U.S. Senate, McGovern was named the first director of the Food for Peace Program by President John F. Kennedy. In this position, he oversaw the provision of millions of tons of food to developing countries.

McGovern was elected to the United States Senate in 1962 and re-elected in 1968 and 1974. He served as a member of the Senate committees on agriculture, nutrition, forestry and foreign relations, as well as the Joint Economic Committee. While on these committees, he led the way in expanding key nutrition programs.

In 1972, McGovern was selected as the Democratic Party nominee for president. Later, in 1976, President Gerald Ford named Senator McGovern a delegate to the U.N. General Assembly and in 1978, President Jimmy Carter named him a delegate for the Special Session on Disarmament. Senator McGovern retired from the Senate in 1980 after 22 years of service.

After leaving the Senate, McGovern became a visiting professor at numerous institutions including Columbia University, Northwestern University, Cornell University, American University and the University of Berlin. McGovern served as the president of the Middle East Policy Council from 1991 until 1998, when President Clinton appointed him United States Ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome.

Throughout his distinguished career, Senator McGovern, working hand-in-hand with his colleague, Republican Senator Robert Dole, dedicated himself to the elimination of hunger at home and abroad.

In the 1970s, as leaders of opposing parties, McGovern and Dole worked together to reform the Food Stamp Program (later known as SNAP), expand the domestic school lunch program, and establish the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

During the following decades, Senators McGovern and Dole built a broad, non-partisan consensus in the United States Congress in support of anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. By the early 21st century, the national school lunch program they fostered was providing meals to approximately 30 million children across the United States.

In the late 1990s, building upon their successes in reinvigorating U.S. food- and poverty-assistance programs, McGovern and Dole began working toward reviving and strengthening global school-feeding, nutrition and education programs. They were committed to creating a program that would provide poor children with meals at school in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Hungry children have difficulty learning, and malnutrition often leads to permanently stunted physical and cognitive development. As many as 300 million children are chronically malnourished due to the cycle of hunger and poverty. Traditionally, young girls in many developing countries are often kept out of school to work in the home performing child care, elder care, and other domestic chores, or are sent out to earn a living. This has caused great gender inequalities in literacy and access to education.

U.S. President Bill Clinton supported the senators’ initiative and in July 2000 his administration established a two-year pilot program, the Global Food for Education Initiative (GFEI), funded at $300 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture administered the program, which initially provided nutritious meals for children in 38 countries.

Under the GFEI, the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided surplus agricultural commodities to school-feeding programs operated by international organizations including the U.N. World Food Programme, CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, World Vision, Joint Aid Management, and the American Red Cross, as well as to the governments of countries that had made commitments to providing universal education.

School enrollment increased as a result of the GFEI, particularly for girls. More broadly, the benefits of school-feeding programs have been shown to include improved cognition and better all-around academic performance, increases in local employment and parental involvement in school activities, and participation by local governments in supporting school-feeding efforts.

With the strong support and urging of Senators Dole and McGovern, Congress passed legislation establishing a permanent international school-feeding program. In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush officially signed into law the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, known as the McGovern-Dole Program.

This hallmark effort fed millions of children in schools across the globe in 41 countries. Between 2002 and 2008 the program boosted school attendance by an estimated 14 percent overall, and by 17 percent for girls.

The success of the McGovern-Dole Program encouraged development leaders to renew their interest in and support for school-feeding. School-feeding was highlighted in the U.N. Millennium Project’s ten key recommendations for achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. With increased funding, the U.N. World Food Programme’s global school-feeding initiative – the world’s largest such program – reached more than 20 million children in 74 countries in 2006. Eleven million of these were in Africa, and over 50 percent of them were girls.

The McGovern-Dole Program has had a wide impact by reigniting global interest in supporting school-feeding, which had become a relatively low international priority by the 1990s. Leaders of various international organizations cited the McGovern-Dole Program as the key factor that allowed organizations to increase their school-feeding operations and to assess the impact of those programs. The proven success encouraged increased commitments from various donor countries for school-feeding.

For the millions of children it has touched in the past and the millions who will benefit in the future, the McGovern-Dole Program and other collaborative school-feeding initiatives can break the cycle of hunger and poverty and provide life-altering opportunities through education and improved health.

Senator McGovern has received many honorary degrees and distinguished awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor, which was presented to him by President Bill Clinton in 2000.

For their extraordinary work together, Senators George McGovern and Bob Dole were awarded the 2008 World Food Prize. The path-breaking accomplishments of the 2008 Laureates continue to inspire leaders both in the United States and across the globe to move their efforts forward to ever-greater heights, with the goal to end world hunger.

Organization Links

Global Food for Education Initiative

Food for Peace Program

McGovern-Dole Program

McGovern Center

Senator Bob Dole Official Website

Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

U.S. Federal Food Stamp Program

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

United Nations World Food Programme

United Negro College Fund
 

 

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