US’s best for­eign pol­icy was a Christmas present

Orlando Sentinel - - OPINION - By Wil­liam Lam­bers

At the start of the hol­i­day sea­son in 1947, Army of­fi­cers in Cincin­nati were load­ing trucks with baby food. Th­ese pack­ages were to be picked up by the Friend­ship Train, which was run­ning coast to coast col­lect­ing do­na­tions.

The baby food and other items were shipped onto Europe to feed the hun­gry. The spe­cial de­liv­er­ies ar­rived around Christmas time in France and Italy. Chil­dren there had a mag­i­cal hol­i­day be­cause they could eat reg­u­lar meals again. Their fam­i­lies would not have to scrap for food in garbage dumps.

Europe had yet to re­cover from World War II and a sub­se­quent drought. There were se­ri­ous food short­ages through­out much of the con­ti­nent. Food do­nated from Amer­ica was es­sen­tial to re­build­ing and win­ning the post war peace.

For in­fants, get­ting baby food would save them from deadly mal­nu­tri­tion. Small chil­dren are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to mal­nu­tri­tion, which can cause last­ing phys­i­cal and men­tal dam­age.

Amer­i­cans would not let that hap­pen. That is why food was be­ing do­nated via the Friend­ship Train. It was an act of gen­eros­ity that showed what Amer­ica is truly about: free­dom from hunger and want for ev­ery per­son. We were not go­ing to let any child suf­fer the im­pact of mal­nu­tri­tion.

Imag­ine the re­lief of par­ents in Europe who, af­ter liv­ing with food short­ages, now saw do­na­tions of food com­ing that would give their child nutrition and health.

The Friend­ship Train food was like a pow­er­ful open­ing act for the Mar­shall Plan to re­build Europe. The Mar­shall Plan is one of Amer­ica’s great­est for­eign pol­icy ini­tia­tives ever. It won peace in Europe. The best path to peace is food and friend­ship.

Congress passed the Mar­shall Plan in 1948. But it was food from the Friend­ship Train and other ini­tia­tives that pre­ceded it, mak­ing the Mar­shall Plan pos­si­ble.

We tend to for­get that the best for­eign pol­icy is not some fancy strat­egy or mas­sive arms deal, but rather the sim­plest and kind­est acts. Food for the hun­gry is the best for­eign pol­icy we can have. We should place a big­ger em­pha­sis on food and nutrition.

All na­tions need food as the foun­da­tion for ev­ery­thing. We are in a po­si­tion to help im­pov­er­ished na­tions achieve food se­cu­rity.

When you look at Syria, Ye­men, South Su­dan, Afghanista­n, the Sa­hel of Africa they all have one thing in com­mon: hunger. And that hunger is a major source of in­sta­bil­ity. Food and nutrition can help th­ese na­tions achieve peace and progress. We must help re­lief or­ga­ni­za­tions like the World Food Pro­gram, UNICEF, Catholic Re­lief Ser­vices, Save the Chil­dren, CARE, Ac­tion Against Hunger and oth­ers who feed the hun­gry.

As Dwight Eisen­hower said af­ter World War II, “no el­e­ment is as im­por­tant in pre­serv­ing the peace of the world as food.”

That’s why it’s im­por­tant that Congress unite in our ef­fort to fight world hunger, They can start by pass­ing the global nutrition res­o­lu­tion (H.Res 189, S. 260) and re­solv­ing to work to­gether to tackle hunger, es­pe­cially among chil­dren and women.

We need to ex­pand and max­i­mize our food as­sis­tance pro­grams to save lives and help es­tab­lish peace. Let’s remember what that Christmas gift of 1947 meant to the hun­gry in Europe. We gave them food, nutrition and hope to re­cover from the worst war in his­tory. That is the best gift we could give any na­tion.

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