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The push is on to make food aid assist the poor, instead of us

Americans like to think we are among the most generous people on Earth. But if our approach to food aid is any indication, much of our generousity as taxpayers appears to be aimed at helping ourselves while pretending to help the poor.
Farmer Africa
Gates Foundation

Americans like to think we are a generous people. But if our approach to food aid is any indication, much of our generousity as taxpayers appears to be aimed at helping ourselves more than the poor.

That’s why the Obama Administration is trying to change the way we do food aid. Here’s a similar report from NPR on our ‘selfish’ food aid program and why some powerful political forces want to keep it that way.

As you’ll hear later on today’s Humanosphere podcast, journalist and author Roger Thurow (The Last Hunger Season) says one reason poor people in Africa and other countries go hungry is because of our bizarre approach to food aid. There are other reasons, Thurow explains, but the American approach to food aid doesn’t help.

In a review of one of Thurow’s earlier books Enough, Jonathan Zasloff says of the federal government’s approach to food aid If You’re Not Outraged You’re Not Paying Attention:

“Current food aid rules are among the most egregious special interest legislation in the world right now, preventing this country from stopping starvation, often helping it, wasting taxpayer money, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and causing soil degradation in Africa.”

A related article by Mother Jones entitled Obama proposes to make food aid less insane

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About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.