Eisenhower's Thanksgiving appeal to Congress

Eisenhower's Thanksgiving appeal to Congress
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General Dwight Eisenhower spent his first Thanksgiving after World War II with Congress. Eisenhower testified before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about hunger in Europe that holiday morning in 1945.

Ike, who was feeling ill, said "There are few places in Europe today where people are not cold, hungry and apprehensive of the future."

Eisenhower urged Congress to increase funding for United Nations hunger relief. The mission of World War II was not complete until we defeated the enemy of hunger. Ike said, "We must, now, make our proportionate contribution to the relief of Europe in order to insure the permanence of our military victory." The Congress did grant the funding and it was the right decision.

Feeding the hungry was an essential part of winning the peace after World War II. The United States needed to show leadership in providing food and another humanitarian aid. As Eisenhower said, "It is a world problem and no nation desirous of a peaceful world can ignore it."

Today, we must recognize that food can play a powerful role in building world stability. Like Eisenhower on Thanksgiving, we can reach out to Congress to encourage them to support international food aid.

This means bringing Democrats and Republicans together on this vital issue. There should be no politics played when it comes to hunger.

Bread for the World is encouraging the House and the Senate to unite in passing a global nutrition resolution, committing to fighting malnutrition. The resolution (H. Res 189 and S. 260) recognizes the world crisis of malnutrition affecting children and mothers. U.S. leadership is needed to combat this global menace which claims lives every day.

War and climate change are causing extreme hunger, with children the most vulnerable. Save the Children says that 85,000 kids in Yemen have died from hunger and disease from the civil war there.

Syria, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa are also experiencing major hunger emergencies. We cannot expect any peace to emerge in these areas without basic food and nutrition for the population.

We can do more as a nation too. The funding for our international food aid is far lower than the wasteful expenditures on nuclear weapons, for example.

More funding for the Food for Peace program, started by President Eisenhower, could help the Central African Republic achieve much needed stability.

Right now in Southern Africa, drought has caused major food shortages across 16 countries. But funding is tragically low for relief. In Malawi the UN World Food Program (WFP) has reduced refugee feeding and also school meals for children because of lack of funds. 

WFP spokesperson Barbara Fang says, “without immediate additional resources, 807,000 learners will no longer receive school meals as Southern Africa enters the lean season.”

The WFP grant from the USDA McGovern-Dole global school lunch program had expired. President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE has also threatened to eliminate the McGovern-Dole program in the budget. Instead we should increase funding for McGovern-Dole to help Malawi and other nations. Global school lunches should be expanded, much like they were after World War II.

There is much we can do to fight hunger and build peace around the world. Like Eisenhower on Thanksgiving, every citizen can speak out and encourage Congress to take the action needed to fight hunger.

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services on the book Ending World Hunger. His writings have been published by USA Today, History News Network, The Hill, Newsweek and many other outlets.