U.S. to tackle food insecurity during U.N. events

Woman and man sitting behind table full of vegetables (USAID)
Farmer Chrisella Antoine showcases her vegetables at a USAID-sponsored agricultural fair in Kenscoff, Haiti. (USAID)

With more people battling hunger and higher food prices, the United States is stepping up efforts to help nations in need.

Armed conflict, climate crises and supply chain delays are among the main causes of food insecurity. They will be a focus of the United States’ presidency of the U.N. Security Council during the month of May.

On May 18, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will host a global food security call to action ministerial meeting at the United Nations in New York. It will bring together around 35 countries, both those most affected by hunger and food shortages and those best positioned to help.

The following day, the secretary will chair a U.N. Security Council meeting focusing on the link between conflict and food security, most notably Russia’s war against Ukraine that has disrupted trade and caused food prices to skyrocket.

“We cannot look away from the millions who are worried about where they’ll find their next meal or how they’ll feed their families,” U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said May 3 in a preview of the events.

World map composed of spices (Photo: © YARUNIV Studio/Shutterstock.com)
(State Dept./M. Gregory)

The need is great. A new report by the United Nations World Food Programme revealed:

  • 193 million people in 53 nations experienced food insecurity during 2021.
  • Conflict is the main cause of food insecurity, affecting 139 million people in 24 nations.
  • 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen are experiencing the most severe cases of food insecurity.

The U.S. government bolsters food security through its own programs, such as Feed the Future, led by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. also works together with other countries and multilateral institutions. These include the U.N. World Food Programme, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program and international financial institutions.

Farmer kneeling among crops (Feed the Future/Likati Thomas)
A farmer in Tanzania with his eggplants. (Feed the Future/Likati Thomas)

Noted agriculturalist Cary Fowler recently joined the State Department as the U.S. special envoy for global food security. He helps lead a U.S. effort that, among other initiatives, provides support for local farmers and encourages entrepreneurship.

Examples include:

  • In Nigeria, a Feed the Future program aids locals by integrating rice and fish farming to counter flood and drought conditions.
  • In Asia, Feed the Future uses satellite data to help local farmers in Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan monitor water and weather conditions.
  • In Haiti, a USAID program helps farmers open new markets through a local agribusiness organization.
Farmer sitting on chair and smiling with animals in background (USAID)
Jean Julien Decius, a cattle farmer in Haiti, poses for a portrait at his farm while his animals feed on the hay he produced and stored with support from USAID. (USAID)

“If we want to prevent a major global food crisis, we need to act now, and we need to work together,” said Janez Lenarčič, the European Union commissioner for crisis management. “I believe the international community is up to this task.”