International Food Assistance
U.S. food aid, a vital component of U.S. overseas humanitarian assistance and foreign policy, is particularly important given todays environment of increasing frequency of emergencies and growing global food insecurity.
The United States is the largest donor of international food assistance. It has recently spent about $2 billion per year to provide international food assistance to food-insecure countries—in both emergency food assistance to avert humanitarian crises and development assistance to support agriculture and related sectors.
- U.S. food aid provides crucial life-saving calories, but food rations designed for short-term food insecurity may not provide adequate nutrition during longer-term food emergencies.
- The United States faces challenges in targeting specialized products designed for the most vulnerable groups, such as children under the age of 2, and maintaining quality controls throughout the supply chain.
- Funding development projects through the purchase, shipment, and sale of U.S. commoditiesa process known as monetizationis inefficient and can cause adverse market impacts.
- Weaknesses in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's oversight of the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program limit its ability to ensure that the programs objectives are met.
- The U.S. government has set goals to improve the effectiveness of U.S. food aid and reach global targets for reducing hunger and malnutrition, but agencies efforts have been fragmented and uncoordinated.
As shown in the figure below, we reported that the inefficiency of the monetization process reduced funding available for development assistance projects by $219 million over a 3-year period.
Note: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) data are from transactions the agency reported between fiscal years 2008 and 2010. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data are from transactions the agency reported between fiscal years 2007 and 2009.