Global Food Security Act a bipartisan strike against world hunger
A wise man once said, "Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it" (Proverbs 3:27). These words speak to us today. But to whom is good due? And who has the power to do it?
While you ponder those questions, a young girl named Sara died as a result of hunger-related causes. Sara had a mother and a father, a name and a story. At one time, she had a future. Was good due to her?
In his historic address to the United States Congress last fall, Pope Francis remarked: How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship, a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time. I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope."
Over the past quarter century, even while the world's population has increased dramatically, the number of hungry men, women and children has declined by more than 200 million. If we stay the course and continue to improve our efforts to reduce hunger, Sara's brothers and sisters and their children will have an opportunity to share in the abundance of God's creation.
During his address to the United Nations the following day, Pope Francis exhorted the world's political leaders to "set aside partisan and ideological interests, and sincerely strive to serve the common good."
We see that happening right now -- in our own country -- with the strong bipartisan support for the Global Food Security Act, a bill that will streamline our efforts to reduce hunger through agricultural development.
The Global Food Security Act has the support of more than 60 reputable faith-based and humanitarian organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Bread for the World, Catholic Relief Services and World Vision.
Here in Illinois, 16 of our 18 U.S. representatives have co-sponsored the House version, H.R. 1567, and both of our U.S. senators have co-sponsored the Senate version, S. 1252. We thank and applaud these members of Congress -- across the political and ideological spectrum -- for demonstrating faithful leadership, and we hope Reps. Peter Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, and Darin LaHood, a Peoria Republican, will join the rest of the Illinois delegation in co-sponsoring this bill.
The Global Food Security Act is strategic, calling for a U.S. "global food-security strategy" that would support and provide technical assistance to poor countries as they develop their own long-term agriculture policies. It is collaborative, leveraging the resources of U.S. academic institutions, NGOs and the private sector to equip smallholder farmers to increase their yields so they can feed their families and communities.
It is evidence-based, stressing the importance of nutrition, especially for pregnant and nursing moms and young children, for whom studies have shown that proper nutrition can mean the difference between a productive life and diminished capacity due to stunting.
And it is accountable, improving upon existing monitoring and evaluation practices to ensure the effective use of funds and the transparent reporting of results.
Pope Francis reminded us of the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12). He said, "This Rule points us in a clear direction. ... In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities."
By passing the Global Food Security Act, we will use our power to do good to those to whom it is due -- to Sara's brothers and sisters and to millions of families struggling with hunger. We call on all leaders of good faith to support the Global Food Security Act today.
Bill and Lynne Hybels are co-founders of Willow Creek Community Church. Zach Schmidt is a regional organizer with Bread for the World, a collective Christian voice urging the nation's decision-makers to end hunger at home and abroad.