At the start of four days of talks with the Group of Eight world leaders, President Obama Friday made a major announcement dealing with world hunger. He announced an initiative to commit $3 billion in private sector funding to battle hunger, particularly on the continent of Africa.
“We’re launching a major new partnership to reduce hunger and lift tens of millions of people from poverty,” he said. Leaders from across Africa met with leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia to address major global economic, political and security challenges, including climate change, food security and nutrition.
The private sector is taking the lead in the hunger effort, to the chagrin of advocates who feel that wealthier governments should ultimately bear the cost of helping the poorest of the poor.
But what about the suffering that’s taking place in less exotic places like New Orleans’ 9th Ward, or Washington, D.C.’s Southeast quadrant? Who is their advocate? Where is their press conference?
I know that we are supposed to be leaders in the world but aren’t we also our brothers’ keeper here at home? According to the U.S. hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, one in six Americans are hungry. That amounts to more than 50 million Americans who live in what’s now known as “food insecure” households.
The president said he considers hunger to be a moral imperative. “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with others,” he said.
The drive proposes to lift 50 million people out of hunger by the year 2015. But if Feeding America’s numbers are true, that is the exact number of Americans who currently go to bed hungry each night. If the same concentrated effort could be focused on our own suffering, hunger as we know it could be eliminated here at home.
Don’t get me wrong, the devastation that exists on the African continent must be addressed. We are among the wealthiest nations on the globe and we can and should do our part to help. But if charity truly begins at home, why wouldn’t we take the same effort to assist those who are left hungry on our own shores?
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(Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)