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FFAS Deputy Under Secretary Vetter Travels to Kenya to Recognize World Food Program Projects and Their Impact on Food Security

I recently returned from Nairobi, where I got a firsthand look at USDA’s food aid programs. Due to volcanic ash in Europe, my arrival was delayed by 36 hours.  I tried to outmaneuver the cloud by taking the scenic route — Washington to Boston to Amsterdam to Paris to Nairobi.  While I enjoyed my multi-airport tour, Mother Nature still got the best of me.  She added further insult by holding my luggage in a city other than Nairobi.

During my time in Africa, I gained an appreciation for the excellent results that the World Food Program (WFP) and private voluntary organizations are producing with resources provided by the U.S. food aid programs.

Senator George McGovern and I visited programs that are helping adults and children with HIV and AIDS. While it was heartbreaking to see so many infants, children, and adults with this disease, U.S. Government programs are providing relief and hope to these children and families.

Meeting with the recipients of the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program was the highlight of the early part of my trip. Senator McGovern and I visited a school located in the slums of Nairobi.  After walking through the mud and open sewers of the slums, we came upon the Stara School, which provides a respite for nearly 600 students.  The WFP is using U.S. food donated through the McGovern-Dole program to feed the children lunch every school day.

The children, all of whom are HIV positive or have at least one parent with HIV, greeted us with warm smiles, poetry and dance. For many of these children, the school lunch is their only meal each day. We had the opportunity to help the teachers and parents serve lunch to the students–an experience I will never forget.  The energy of the students and positive outlook of the teachers attest to the impact of the program on these young lives.

Traveling with Senator McGovern has provided a unique opportunity to gain knowledge of the history of U.S. food security and food aid programs.  Senator McGovern has been working to end global hunger since the Roosevelt Administration, and continues today as he works tirelessly for WFP, an organization he helped found.  I am so proud to be part of the team at USDA that administers the Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole food aid programs that were authored by Senator McGovern.

As the Obama Administration implements the Feed the Future Initiative, we owe a great debt to Senator McGovern, who has provided a wealth of knowledge and a deep commitment to global food security.

Deputy Under Secretary Vetter helps to distribute the meals in the village of Gambella.

Deputy Under Secretary Vetter helps to distribute the meals in the village of Gambella.

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