By Joshua Russell
Nearly one billion people in the world experienced or continued to experience chronic hunger this past year. The worst concentrations of this hunger are in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia. In the past year, Congress took several steps to address this critical issue.
In February 2014, several provisions were included in the farm bill to make international food aid programs more efficient. Congress authorized up to $80 million per year for purchases of food closer to countries in need and created a permanent program for local and regional procurement of food.
The House passed the Global Food Security Act in December 10, but the bill did not make it to the Senate before Congress adjourned for the holidays. The bill may be re-introduced in the new Congress in 2015. The bill firmly establishes the Feed the Future program, which focuses on food security in key regions. A number of concerns have been raised about the accountability and effectiveness of the Feed the Future program, which will need to be addressed as the program is fully implemented.
The Food for Peace Reform Act is another key bill that could potentially advance through Congress during the next session. This legislation would make much needed reforms to U.S. emergency food assistance and would be another step toward reducing hunger worldwide should it advance into law in 2015.