WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The North American Millers’ Association (NAMA) commented on Oct. 22 the contributions of former Sen. and Ambassador George McGovern in the fight against hunger. McGovern died on Oct. 21.
As America’s first director of Food for Peace in the Senate, he co-authored the U.S. school lunch program. As the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) food agencies in Rome, he spearheaded the globalization of the U.S. school lunch program, resulting in school feeding programs that have launched millions of children toward new, productive lives.
“I was honored and privileged to have traveled with George McGovern on his last trip to Africa in 2010, a trip co-sponsored by NAMA,” said NAMA Chairman Paul Maass. “I saw the lasting effect his efforts had on thousands, if not millions of the world’s neediest children, through the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Development Program.”
The 2010 mission was led by Sen. McGovern and co-sponsored by NAMA and World Food Program USA. Mission participants visited anti-hunger activities in Kenya and Uganda.
McGovern was instrumental in the creation of PL 480 (or Food For Peace), which became the foundation of the U.S. international food assistance program and has saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people since the 1960s. President Kennedy appointed McGovern as the first Director of Food For Peace and it was during his tenure that he formulated what would become the World Food Programme, a UN program to response to hunger.
He later was elected the Democratic Senator of South Dakota and began a partnership with Republican Senator Robert Dole of Kansas on nutrition issues. NAMA noted that relationship stands today as one of the best examples of bipartisan effectiveness in modern times. McGovern was a leader in the U.S. Senate in nutrition and school feeding issues. He and Dole pushed through the Senate a universal school lunch program that is still the mainstay of U.S. nutrition programs in every state.
After retiring from the Senate, the Senator carried his leadership into the global arena as U.S. Ambassador to the UN food agencies in Rome. In 2002, he formulated a plan to expand the successful U.S. school lunch program into a global effort with the support of his colleague, and still influential, retired Senator Bob Dole. What developed was successful legislation to start the “McGovern-Dole International School Feeding and Child Development Program.” When McGovern and Dole were awarded the World Food Prize in 2008, Dole joked that he preferred to call it the “Dole-McGovern Program.”
Maass summed up NAMA’s tribute by saying, “As a leading association of companies whose mission is to be the link between grain and goodness, we are humbled to have worked closely with such a voice for nutritious foods to the hungry around the world.”