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Today is World Food Day and I am in Rome giving the 6th Annual George McGovern World Food Day lecture at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The lecture is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.
World Food Day marks the founding of FAO on October 16, 1945. I love the FAO motto: Fiat Panis (let there be bread). Its job is to make sure the world gets fed adequately.
FAO has just released its 2009 edition of "The State of Food Insecurity in the World." It contains nothing but bad news: hunger is on the rise, the global economic crisis is making things worse, with people in developing countries hit hardest.
The George McGovern lecture is in honor of the former U.S. Senator (Dem-South Dakota) and presidential candidate who has had a distinguished history of anti-hunger efforts as director of the Food for Peace program, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, and U.N. global ambassador on hunger.
I am most familiar with his work as chair of the Senate Select Committee from 1968-1977. This committee greatly expanded food assistance programs and then developed the first federal guidelines for chronic disease prevention: Dietary Goals for the U.S. In Food Politics, I describe the work of this committee and the way it improved the safety net and transformed nutrition education in the United States.
It is a great honor to be giving a lecture in his honor.