Feeding the World, One Child at a Time
I am delighted to join in commending Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro upon receiving the World Food Prize for their important work on infant and child nutrition. They have dedicated their lives to helping those most in need and deserve this wonderful recognition.
I would also like to commend the World Food Prize for recognizing the importance of child nutrition as a part of food security. We must use sound science to increase food production worldwide and feed an exploding world population while adapting to the reality of climate change. With this increased production, however, feeding our children must be the highest possible priority. However, we must never lose sight of why increasing agriculture production is so important. Our goal is to produce enough food to sustain the world population, and that focus must start with our children.
I was proud to join forces with my friend Senator George McGovern to create a global school nutrition program. It now reaches millions of children in dozens of countries. We have seen with this program that when school lunches are provided participation in school increases, particularly with girls. The parents let the girls go to school for meals. As a result, the girls get married later, have fewer children and fulfill their potential by taking full advantage of available educational opportunities.
In the United States we enacted the National School Lunch Act in 1946, right after World War II, to help both agriculture and children. It is important that the world community also links food security to child nutrition. The World Bank published the 2009 report “Rethinking School Feeding” to make this point. The African Union must include child nutrition as a part of their Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Mobilizing political leaders to include infant and child nutrition as a part of their food security strategy is the best way to honor Dr. Haddad and Dr. Nabarro. The World Food Prize will stimulate thought by presenting the Prize to these most deserving honorees, and for that I commend the Prize selection committee.
Every child deserves an opportunity to fulfill their potential. No one knows which child will become the next great inventor, scientist or political leader. We must start by focusing on the first 1,000 days of life, then recognize that child nutrition should be a part of any comprehensive food security policy statement. This is a matter of just being practical. A hungry child cannot learn, and an uneducated adult will not be productive. This is beyond partisanship or ideology. I appreciate Dr. Lawrence Haddad and Dr. David Nabarro’s leadership on this issue, and congratulate them on receiving the World Food Prize.