By Nora Faris
DES MOINES, Iowa — Some citizens give more thought to what they’re having for dinner than who they’re voting for for president. But American voters’ decisions in the 2016 presidential election could determine what the world has—or doesn’t have—for dinner.
A U.S. president’s platform and vision for the country affects the nation’s investment in food aid. That’s why David Beckmann, a former World Food Prize laureate, said America’s next president needs to not only lead the world, but feed the world.
Beckmann said, contrary to common conceptions, America has been increasing its foreign food aid investments, and the next president should be committed to continuing that momentum.
“On global hunger and poverty issues, we have seen this Congress increase funding for poverty-focused development assistance in each of the last 5 years,” Beckmann said.
Beckmann serves as president of Bread for the World, a faith-based non-profit organization that works to end hunger in America and abroad. Bread for the World and 165 other hunger and poverty organizations formed the Vote to End Hunger campaign last year. The initiative publicizes political candidates’ views on hunger and food aid and encourages voters to consider hunger as a priority issue when voting.
In January 2015, a group of Christian faith leaders asked all major party presidential candidates to submit short videos outlining their platforms for combating hunger and poverty. Two candidates didn’t submit videos: Chris Christie and Donald Trump.
But in early October 2016, both Trump and Hillary Clinton published written statements about their plans to address hunger and poverty.
Trump’s statement focuses on scaling back “bloated and unaccountable bilateral and multilateral foreign aid programs.” Trump said eliminating despotism and terrorist regimes abroad will achieve greater long-term peace and prosperity than “decades of emergency and inefficient food aid.”
Clinton’s statement announces her goal of cutting U.S. poverty in half within 10 years by calling for a $125 billion economic revitalization measure, increased support for public education and continued investment in initiatives like USAID’s Feed the Future.
In 2014, Feed the Future delivered support to 7 million smallholder farmers and improved nutrition for 12 million children globally.
Beckmann said Clinton’s plan reveals greater foresight and a commitment to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goal of ending global hunger by 2050.
“We are faced with real choices, important choices, for us and also for hungry people,” Beckmann said. “It’s really important that when we go into that ballot box that we also give a thought to which of these candidates are going to do the most to get us to the end of hunger.”
Earlier this year, President Obama signed the Global Food Security Act, which earmarks $7 billion for international agriculture initiatives focused on empowering smallholder farmers and improving the nutrition of women and children. Beckmann said the next president and Congress will determine the actual implementation of the law.
This story is published in collaboration with the University of Missouri. Read more about their reporting project at the World Food Prize here.