New York — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide $183 million in U.S. agricultural commodities and support for an estimated 2.7 million children in 10 developing countries as part of the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in 2014, USDA says.
"The McGovern-Dole program doesn't just feed hungry children, it invests in their future potential," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City April 9. "Supporting healthy families and improving access to education helps to combat the root causes of poverty and fosters sustainable economic growth in developing nations."
Through the McGovern-Dole Program, USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service works with private voluntary organizations and foreign governments worldwide to reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education, especially for girls. By providing school meals, teacher training and related support, McGovern-Dole projects help boost school enrollment and academic performance. At the same time, the program focuses on improving children's health and learning capacity before they enter school by offering nutrition programs for pregnant and nursing women, infants and preschoolers.
Approximately 28 million children in 37 countries have benefited from the McGovern-Dole Program since it was established in 2002. For example:
- An estimated 650,000 Kenyan children are currently benefiting from hunger programs at more than 2,000 schools, thanks to $77.8 million in support that USDA has provided to the World Food Programme over the past decade.
- In the Congo, USDA support to the International Partnership for Human Development has helped boost school enrollment by nearly 24 percent while reducing the school drop-out rate by more than 50 percent and cutting absenteeism -- mainly caused by malaria -- by 66 percent.
- In Honduras, multi-year support from USDA has enabled Catholic Relief Services to work with more than 2,000 teachers and administrators, focusing on early-grade reading and math assessment for more than 53,000 school-aged children, providing educational materials and school supplies, and mobilizing more than 500 community organizations to recruit and train volunteer substitute teachers.
Visit the Foreign Agricultural Service website to see a chart summarizing 2014 McGovern-Dole projects and to learn more about the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program and other FAS programs.