Food Aid We Can Afford
Regarding the March 1 front-page article "Soaring Food Prices Putting U.S. Emergency Aid in Peril":
While it is true that rising food prices could significantly reduce the volume of aid deliveries, I was astonished that this article did not mention one obvious solution: Buy the food locally or regionally in developing countries instead of buying it in the United States and shipping it thousands of miles. A 2007 Government Accountability Office study found that 65 percent of the cost of food aid is shipping and administrative expenses. Those costs could be reduced substantially if funding were provided to the World Food Programme and others to buy food closer to where food crises are occurring.
The European Union, Canada and most other countries providing such aid made that change over a decade ago without reducing the volume of food provided, and Congress should insist that we test this idea with our own food aid programs.
We can't control grain prices, but we could easily reduce delivery costs, making more food available to hungry people and supporting local efforts in developing countries to build sustainable food supplies.
Food and Hunger Policy Analyst
ActionAid International USA