In the State of the Union speech tonight President Obama called for ending extreme poverty around the globe. The President said the U.S. would join with allies to help poorer nations feed themselves. He also called for action to save "the world's children from preventable deaths."
Many children in developing countries face life-threatening malnutrition in the critical first years of life. The World Health Organization says, "About one third of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition." In the short term, a generation of children can be rescued with food such as Plumpy'Nut, a peanut paste used to treat malnutrition.
Plumpy'Nut is used in many of the countries the President cited in his speech including Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. These countries are all mired in a major hunger crisis and will continue to need this food assistance for the near future. For the long-term building food and medical resources within a society can prevent such malnutrition from taking place.
In his speech the President made a link between fighting hunger and poverty abroad and U.S. national security. Obama said tonight, "We also know that progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all. In many places, people live on little more than a dollar a day." Peace depends on ending hunger and poverty.
Will the President be able to rally both Democrats and Republicans to support programs like Food for Peace, McGovern-Dole, Feed the Future and others which fight hunger abroad?
Obama also said tonight, "So the United States will join with our allies to eradicate such extreme poverty in the next two decades: by connecting more people to the global economy and empowering women; by giving our young and brightest minds new opportunities to serve and helping communities to feed, power, and educate themselves; by saving the world’s children from preventable deaths; and by realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation."
Obama also said it was time to raise the minimum wage in America saying, "It could mean the difference between groceries or the food bank." Millions of Americans are suffering from hunger and being forced to make tough choices on what basics they can afford. Food banks are having a difficult time keeping up with the increased demand for help.