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Home > About Us > Press Center > Food Aid

Food aid: why is it needed?

Some 854 million people across the world are hungry, up from 852 million a year ago. (1)

Persistent poverty is a root cause of hunger. World Vision believes that food aid is a key tool in addressing chronic world hunger.

Food aid, in all its forms and in conjunction with other programs, can help eliminate poverty and lessen the impact of world hunger.

World Vision combats world hunger by the provision of food aid in Uganda.
Food aid in Uganda

What is food aid?

Food aid is any food-supported intervention, meant to improve the food security of people living in poverty, in the short- and long-term. Food security, as defined by the World Bank (1986) and the 1996 World Food Summit, is “access by all people at all times to sufficient food for an active and healthy life.” (2)

Methods of food aid include:
>In-kind commodity: actual food purchased or donated and then delivered to suffering populations.
>Cash (local) purchase: to purchase food locally, in the developing country where populations are at risk.
>Cash for food: money given to beneficiaries for the purchase of food in local markets.
>Monetization: Selling donated food in order to obtain money for other development programs, including health, water, agriculture, HIV/AIDS, microfinance, or direct food security.

Based on more than 50 years of experience, World Vision believes that a variety of options for food aid and a program tailored to the specific needs of the region and suffering population can best meet the needs of those affected by food insecurity.

World Vision combats world hunger by distributing dried fish, rice and lentils in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lanka, World Vision distributes
dried fish, rice and lentils.
Food aid serves a wider role than just providing relief during emergencies. It helps to lessen chronic food insecurity resulting from poor economies and structural injustices compounded by corruption, meets the nutritional requirements of those affected by HIV and AIDS, and saves millions of people affected by world hunger and who are barely meeting their daily food needs.

World Vision uses food aid in:

Northern Sudan
Sierra Leone
Sri Lanka

The current debate

World Vision combats world hunger by distributing wheat to Lina in Afghanistan.
Lina receives wheat at a World Vision distribution point in Afghanistan.
The discussion among nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), governments, and academics about the impact of food aid has reached a critical juncture.

Certain World Trade Organization (WTO) member nations argue that cash is always better than food aid. These nations propose that the WTO should either eliminate these vital food aid programs altogether, limit food aid to only certain emergency cases, or create unnecessary hurdles to implementing desperately needed relief programs. While these proposals are well meaning, they would sharply threaten the worldwide availability of food assistance.

World Vision's position

Eliminating in-kind food aid could jeopardize the lives of 850 million of the world’s hungry, who live in chronically food insecure or food deficit countries where food aid is the only option.

World Vision advocates that the United States:
>Ensure access to adequate amounts of food aid for both chronic and emergency needs and support the use of various forms of appropriate food aid instruments such as local purchase, in-kind commodities, cash, and monetization.
>Keep the lives of millions of hungry people at the center of the discussion. Do not allow in-kind food aid to be treated as a bargaining chip.
>Continue to fight for eliminating the causes of poverty that create the demand for food aid, such as unfair trade rules.
>Reject proposals that would limit the ability of a donor country to enter into an agreement directly with a humanitarian organization to provide food assistance.
>Preserve access to these resources and allow flexibility to develop programs that meet local needs based on context.

World Vision and a number of other NGOs are asking the U.S. Trade Representative to urge the WTO to not place new limits on food aid and our ability to feed those in need.

Food aid is an important tool for helping the world's hungry realize the fundamental right to freedom from hunger.

Additional resources

G8 and the food crisis [PDF, 2 pgs, 200 KB]
World Vision briefing
May 2008

Testimony on the global food crisis
Robert Zachritz
World Vision Director of Advocacy and Government Relations
Before the Congressional Children’s Caucus, Congressional Health Caucus and the Foreign Affairs Committee on Africa and Global Health
May 8, 2008

Should the U.S. End In-Kind Food Aid? [PDF, 22 pgs, 216 KB]
Assessing the Case for Cash
Joel J. Toppen, Ph.D., Dept. of Political Science, Hope College
October 2006

An Analysis of PL-480 Title II Monetization Data [PDF, 12 pgs, 132 KB]
provided by World Vision and Save the Children
February 2006

Much Ado About Food Aid
Paper delivered by Jim Lutzweiler, World Vision U.S. Food Security and Food Programming Advisor at a meeting convened by the Overseas Development Institute
January 19, 2006

President of World Vision International speaks on food aid (pdf, 44.13 KB, 10 pages)

World Vision's food aid message

Food aid FAQs

World Vision's policy on the use of food aid

The Alliance For Food Aid Web site

World Vision conressional testimonies

World Vision Congressional Testimony on Food Aid
Walter Middleton, Vice-President for the Food Resources Management Group before the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture Appropriations
March 15, 2007

World Vision Congressional Testimony on Child Hunger and Malnutrition
George Ward, Senior Vice-President for International Programsbefore the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
September 26, 2006

Congressional Testimony: The status of the World Trade Organization Doha Round Negotiations on Agriculture
Mark Viso, Vice President of Operations, World Vision U.S., before the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
September 21, 2005

World Vision Congressional Testimony on Food Aid Programs
Robert Zachritz, Senior Policy Advisor, World Vision U.S., before the Sub- committee on Specialty Crops and Foreign Agriculture Programs House Agriculture Committee
June 16, 2005

1. State of Food Insecurity in the World 2006. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

2. World Bank Hunger and Poverty Report 1986, World Bank

Who Is World Vision?

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

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