Sunday is the Day!

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Tanya Weinberg, Director of Media and Communications

Washington D.C.

October 12, 2011


Pop Quiz!  This coming Sunday is:

 A)     A good day for brunch

B)      World Food Day

C)      Blog Action Day

D)     All of the Above

I’m going with D. Like so many of us, I’m working hard this week, and I’m looking forward to a nice Sunday brunch with friends. But, October 16 is also World Food Day, a time to reflect on food and hunger issues around the world. 

It’s very cool that this year, Sunday is also Blog Action Day – a chance for thousands of bloggers to rally around an important cause. Special thanks to our friends at Oxfam for organizing this year’s Blog Action Day around an issue affecting hundreds of millions of children around the world – hunger.

Save the Children has produced an embeddable World Food Day Quiz for the occasion. It’s an interactive way to share some surprising information about hunger. By posting it, bloggers can do more than spread critical awareness, they can offer readers a easy way to make a real difference. The quiz ends with the option to send an urgent message to Congress: Don’t slash foreign aid!  It’s no time to abandon efforts to fight hunger.

Here’s the quiz and below some context around why its ultimate message is so critical right now:

Click here to get the embed code

The good news is that the world has made great progress on reducing child hunger. The United Nations reports that child malnutrition rates in the developing world have dropped from 30 percent to 23 percent between 1990 and 2009. That means millions of children have escaped the permanent physical and intellectual stunting that malnutrition causes, and the deadly disease that can often follow.

But there’s also some really bad news. Just at a time when economic crisis, food price volatility and more severe weather are threatening to reverse gains in fighting global hunger, the U.S. Congress is considering massive cuts to foreign assistance programs that help hungry children around the world.

 If these cuts go through, the United States will have to pull back the kind of help it can now offer to desperately hungry children in the Horn of Africa.  And we’ll also have to slash food security programs that have helped pull many out of hunger over the years.  Did you know that the “Food for Peace” program established by President John F. Kennedy has helped around 3 billion hungry people in 150 countries?

Although surveys have shown many Americans think as much as 25% of the U.S. budget goes to foreign aid, the truth is only about 1% does.  And only half of that goes to humanitarian and development programs that fight hunger and disease and offer impoverished children a chance for a better future.   Let’s not cut the very programs that offer the best chances for building a healthier and more prosperous world! 

Whether or not we have the option for a nice Sunday brunch this week, that kind of progress benefits us all.

Making a Difference, One Call at a Time

I just got off the phone with my Congressman’s office. You see, Congress is in the midst of deciding spending levels for 2012, and I wanted to make sure my voice was heard. Some members of Congress want to cut foreign assistance programs by as much as 30 percent, which would have devastating consequences for children and families around the globe. I couldn’t stand by and watch that happen.

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Shocking News? Bipartisan Support for Child Health

Paige Harrigan 2 Paige Harrigan, Save the Children, Nutrition Advisor

Westport, CT

Friday, February 25, 2011


Last week, I found a pleasant surprise in the free Examiner newspaper they hand to commuters hurrying down Metro escalators here in Washington. The paper has a conservative slant, but the editorial on page 2 made the case for common political ground. The headline’s bold letters cried out, Child nutrition: A true bipartisan issue.

Yes! That was my personal reaction because I’m a mother and I’m a nutritionist. I know how critical proper nutrition is for childhood development and health. And here was the Examiner saying Michelle Obama’s child nutrition effort both “enjoys and deserves bipartisan support.”

Last month the same paper ran a story suggesting a possible link between the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign and an increase in pedestrian deaths. That story caught fire in some regions of talk radio and the blogosphere.

I only wish the Examiner’s message on child nutrition would catch major attention, too. Maybe it can, if only because, in the current political environment, bipartisanship is itself pretty shocking. Perhaps an even bigger story along the same lines could really grab the spotlight.

Imagine, for example, conservatives and liberals joining together in a broader strategy of investment around child health. Imagine them recognizing that the nutrition and health of children – not only in the United States, but also around the world – is directly connected to America’s future.

Well, surprise! On some level, that’s already happening. A broad range of officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Democrats like Sen. Richard Durbin and Rep. Nita Lowey, and Republicans like Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Dave Reichert, are among those who agree that investing in development abroad is a critical investment in U.S. national security and our economic future.

Unfortunately, the House Republican leadership isn’t listening, yet. They’re talking about slashing all international assistance, which would drastically undermine programs for children’s nutrition and health. I wonder how much they have thought this position through. Too much austerity today not only denies millions of children the chance to grow up healthy and productive, it increases the risk of global instability and economic stagnation tomorrow.

That’s because, shockingly, one third of children in the developing world are chronically malnourished. That means their physical and intellectual growth is likely to be permanently stunted. They will never reach their full potential.

Malnutrition also puts these children at far greater risk of early death. Yet, things as simple as breastfeeding and introducing a more diverse diet to children under 2 can protect them from fatal disease. As it stands, eight million children die each year before they turn 5 years old, mostly from preventable and treatable causes, such as pneumonia and diarrhea.

U.S. foreign aid has been instrumental in helping many countries reduce child deaths – cutting the annual global toll in half over the last 40 years. We cannot stop now.

I think we can all agree we want to grow the global markets that our nation’s economic growth increasingly depends on. And I think we all can agree we must guard against global instability that costs us far more when it bubbles into terrorism and war.

So why not agree on this as well: let’s invest in children to provide an indispensable foundation for our future – both at home and abroad.