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COMMENTARY: Give an Easter Basket that saves lives

COMMENTARY: Give an Easter Basket that saves lives

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A boy carries food supplies provided by the World Food Programme at a school in Sanaa, Yemen, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019. The U.N. humanitarian chief in Yemen warned last Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

AT EASTER in 1920, the

American people got an

emotional message from the president of Austria, Karl Seitz. This was less than two years after World War I, which had left Austria in ruins with food shortages.

“Thanks to the generous food drafts on American Relief warehouses, we are able to make Easter a veritable feast of joy for many poor families,” President Seitz said.

It was Americans donating food that saved lives in Austria and other European nations at risk of famine. Seitz said, “I wish to thank the generous donors and wish them the same joy which is filling the hearts of those benefited by their generous gifts.”

This Easter, that same generous spirit is needed as much as it was after WWI, with hunger escalating around the globe.

Famine is threatening Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Burkina Faso, according to the United Nations. About 20 countries are experiencing severe hunger due to conflict or drought. The impact of COVID-19 has made these hunger emergencies even worse.

The director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, warns, “We are seeing a catastrophe unfold before our very eyes. Famine—driven by conflict, and fueled by climate shocks and the COVID-19 pandemic—is knocking on the door for millions of families.”

Save the Children said earlier this year that over 60 million children worldwide would need help to survive this year. Janti Soeripto, Save the Children’s president, says, “There is no excuse for children going hungry day after day, being forced to work to put food on the table, or denied their right to education.”

At Easter, we are used to receiving baskets with eggs, chocolate and toys. The children of the world need Easter baskets filled with basic food to survive. That must be our focus this Easter and beyond.

Anyone can give an Easter basket of food to the hungry by donating to WFP, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, CARE, UNICEF, Action against Hunger and other charities.

Edesia, a nonprofit that produces a life-saving food for children called Plumpy’nut, once sent a ship of food with stuffed animals overseas. That way, malnourished children would get the life-saving food and a friend to help them through the difficult times.

This is the Easter spirit we need year round to stop famine.

One thing the United States Congress could do in the next budget is expand its global school lunch and infant feeding programs. This could be done by increasing funding for the McGovern–Dole program that feeds school children in poor nations like Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Haiti.

By raising McGovern–Dole funding to $300 million a year, many more children could receive school meals. In addition, a separate program funding infant feeding to prevent deadly malnutrition should be created.

One of the most successful relief programs we had after WWI and WWII was the feeding of children in war-devastated countries. This program focused on food for infants and mothers and school lunches for older kids. Let’s duplicate that on a wider scale during this global hunger crisis.

Let Easter inspire us this year to create a world in which no child goes hungry. That is how we can bring the peace the world so desperately needs.

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program (WFP) on the book, “Ending World Hunger.” He recently volunteered to write the Hunger Heroes section of the WFP trivia game, FreeRice.

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