CARE Knows How to Advocate: Food Aid Reform

CARE Knows How to Advocate: Food Aid Reform

The need for food aid reforms in order to ensure assistance is reaching the most vulnerable in an efficient and timely manner is something CARE witnessed firsthand. We quickly dedicated ourselves to leading the call for reforms in U.S. policy on food aid. In 2006, CARE issued the White Paper on Food Aid Policy where CARE called for policy reforms that improved U.S. food aid assistance, including ending the harmful practice of monetization.

Monetization, the selling of U.S. food aid to generate cash for humanitarian programs, is inefficient, costly, and harmful to local markets. According to a government report released by the General Accounting Office soon after the White Paper, approximately 65% of U.S. food aid expenses are for the procurement, transportation, and management of the food aid. This approach greatly diverts from the immense need on the ground to reach as many survivors as quickly as possible. Because of this, CARE was one of the first organizations to take a principled stance by ending our involvement in monetization and advocating for policy change.

Following a long campaign for food aid reform largely led by CARE, the Farm Bill was passed in February 2014 and included significant reforms, including the ending of monetization and provisions in the spending bill. Due to these reforms, an additional 2 to 4 million people will receive emergency food assistance.

CARE worked closely with various partners and applied numerous strategies to achieve this huge victory. In addition to the influential White Paper, CARE collaborated with leading humanitarian organizations to form the Food Aid Reform Coalition to ensure a strategic approach and worked closely with allies in the U.S. government, including USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah.

CARE mobilized the CARE Action Network, a network of 245,000 U.S. citizens who fight against global poverty through local advocacy, and they generated over 51,000 letters and phone calls to their policymakers and took part in over 50 in-district meetings. CARE also cultivated advocates among influential leaders, including celebrity chefs and senior government officials, through our Learning Tours which highlight the importance of U.S. foreign assistance through visits to CARE programs in developing countries.

The passing of the 2014 Farm Bill illustrates the effectiveness of and need for strategic advocacy efforts to improve foreign assistance. We will continue to apply innovative approaches to achieve long-term policy changes that support the fight against global poverty and social injustice. 

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Attendees of the 2014 National CARE Conference pose in front of the Capitol.