Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Global Food Systems: Seed to Plate and Everything In-Between

Image: Cynthia with a copy of her book "From Changing
Diapers to Changing the World" at Capitol Hill in DC

Today, I’m back on Capitol Hill with CARE talking about...drumroll please...food security! Although I often lobby Congress about nutrition, usually I’m talking about child nutrition in the first 1000 days of life. That is definitely part of food security, but it’s just one tiny aspect of the great big issue.

Image: Toddler eating carrots off a plate

What is Food Security?

Food security is all about strengthening food systems to help the world weather all kinds of crises. Food systems encompass everything from seed to plate and ALL that happens in between. 

The main legislation that authorizes the U.S. to do its part in protecting global food systems is called the Global Food Security Act (GFSA). In 2016, it put our Feed the Future program - which addressed root causes of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition - into law. That successful program lifted approximately 23.4 million people above the poverty line with its innovations! Yet it will expire soon and must be renewed by 2023. 

Image: Panelists at 2022 CARE conference talk about the 
importance of the Global Food Security Act

The Global Food Security Act focuses on long term sustainability and resilience of food systems. We have seen in the last two years how disruptions in food supply from disease or war can globally affect food access for the vulnerable and food price increases for everyone. Emergency food helps people eat now. Strengthening food systems helps build long term resilience for all kinds of future emergencies. 

Build a Better GFSA

We are at a real crisis point with food security. More people in the world were already food insecure even before COVID-19 and war in the Ukraine started. We need to build up food systems, so we won't be so vulnerable to these kinds of shocks as well as things we can't even yet imagine. 

How does CARE want to make the next Global Food Security Act even better? As always, we know that putting women and girls at the center will improve policies. CARE believes the next GFSA should include:

  • More support for savings groups that help women and girls involved in agriculture become more independent
  • More support for small-scale farmers, particularly women, giving them better access to markets, credits, tools, fertilizer, and other assets
  • Better integration of nutrition into food systems programming, including elevating women as household decision-makers on nutrition. 

How Can YOU Help? 

Call your representative this week and say, “My name is ______ and I’m your constituent living in _____. A new Global Food Security Action will be introduced soon by Representatives Betty McCollum and Chris Smith. I am asking you to be an original co-sponsor to support food systems and help make our world more resilient to disasters like disease, climate disasters, and war. Thank you.

Image: Cynthia with Congresswoman Cori Bush