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U.S. pledges $10 billion at food summit, half for domestic programs

The United States joined dozens of countries at a UN-sponsored food summit in pledging on Thursday to reduce world hunger. The Biden administration said it would put $10 billion into the effort, half of it to be spent domestically and half abroad.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said $5 billion would go to strengthening U.S. food systems, including improving Americans’ access to healthy foods, building a more diverse and resilient food production network, and expanding climate-smart agriculture and forestry.

Working with Congress, the administration would provide $5 billion over five years for the Feed the Future program, which uses public-private partnerships in 12 targeted countries to improve food production through locally led projects. The number of participating countries will be expanded. Within the Feed the Future expansion, the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. set a goal of funding $1 billion in food security and agriculture, research, and food fortification programs, said the White House.

“We look forward to helping the world advance our common goal of achieving food security and ending hunger,” said Vilsack during an online UN news conference.

About 768 million people — more than the population of Europe and nearly one of every 10 people in the world — were hungry in 2020, an increase of 118 million people since the arrival of the pandemic, according to a UN report in July. This was the highest global hunger rate since 2009 and put in question the global pledge made six years ago to end hunger by 2030.

“It’s not news that we’ve faced tremendous and interconnected challenges in our world today,” said UN deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed in describing the 18 months of work that led to the summit in New York. “We found that food offers hope. Through sustainable food production systems, it is possible to feed a growing population while protecting our planet, but this only can happen when we work together.”

The White House fact sheet on U.S. commitments at the food summit is available here.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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