The Obama administration has noted Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) statement indicating support of the goals of its recent food aid reform proposal, a statement that also stressed the need for securing these changes in permanent legislation. The US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Center for Faith-Based & Community Initiative wrote:
[The] reforms will [also] ensure that the US is able to flexibly respond to hunger needs around the world, reaching more people with more efficient programming and enabling robust emergency and development programming within current budget constraints. The proposed reforms have drawn support from a diverse cross section of faith-based and community groups, including Catholic Relief Services, American Jewish World Service, Bread for the World, Church World Service and Maryknoll.
As outlined in President Obama’s 2014 budget request, the proposal would reform the way the United States carries out international food aid by expanding the availability of cash financing for both emergency and development programs. This would allow aid agencies to end the practice of monetization, and, according to USAID, allow food aid programs to reach “an estimated two to four million more people annually with the same amount of resources.”
CRS has long advocated for increased cash funding of food aid programs in order to end the practice of monetization, increase the use of local and regional procurement mechanisms and make programs overall more efficient, but also stresses the importance of legislation that would insure these changes are part of a long-term commitment to aiding the world’s hungry.
“CRS is very concerned about the long-term management and sustainability of food aid programs within the context of budgetary uncertainty that the President’s proposal would entail,” said Bill O’Keefe, CRS’ Vice President for Advocacy. “CRS wants to see the proposed changes incorporated in authorizing legislation, which provides a long-term commitment to critical, life-saving food aid funding.”
“Any reform must be enshrined in an authorizing framework – not just in a one year budget deal – that would maintain significant levels of resources for multi-year, multi-sectoral programs to specifically address the needs of the most vulnerable,” he added.