MSF: US Food Aid Policy Contradicts Country's Nutrition Focus

The U.S.’s food aid policy negates the country’s strategy to focus on providing quality nutritional support during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life, the international organization Medecins Sans Frontieres has observed.

U.S. Secretary Hillary Clinton announced in May that the U.S. will direct its investments in nutrition on the 1,000-day window covering the start of pregnancy until the second year of life.

>> Clinton Launches New US Focus on NutritionBut the U.S. provides approximately USD2 billion worth of food aid that is not ideal for children aged 2 and below, Emi MacLean, the U.S. manager for MSF’s Access Campaign for Essential Medicines, said according to IRIN. MacLean explained that U.S. food aid is comprised largely of corn soya blend with no animal-source food items, which is not fit for children under 2 years old.

In response, the U.S. Agency for International Development has referred to a blog by Ertharin Cousin, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. food and agriculture agencies based in Rome, Italy.

Cousin did not directly address the nutritional deficiencies in U.S. food aid but explained that the U.S. Congress had set aside USD14 million for a new project to “field-test new or improved micronutrient-fortified food aid products” and improve the nutritional composition and content of U.S. food aid, IRIN says.

USAID is also supporting a study by the Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy to assess the quality of U.S. food aid, Cousin explained in the blog post.

MSF has been campaigning over the past few years for reforms to improve the quality of international food aid provided to young children in developing countries.

The organization has recently undertaken an initiative to send letters to leaders of the world’s top food aid donors, which include the U.S. and Japan, to urge them to rethink their policies and stop supplying or financing the distribution of nutritionally substandard food items to developing countries.

>> Donor Countries Slammed for Quality of Food Aid

About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.