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In the past year, 100 million people have joined the ranks of the chronically hungry, bringing the total number to a little over 1 billion. In mid November, representatives of 192 countries met at the World Summit on Food Security to look for solutions to this critical problem.
The Summit, organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), sought to promote international consensus on action to address global food insecurity. The United States supports sustainable agriculture-led economic development through comprehensive, country-led plans. This approach was recognized in the final declaration, which included the Five Rome Principles for Sustainable Global Food Security.
The head of the U.S. delegation, Alonzo Fulgham of the U.S. Agency for International Development, praised the final document. "What this declaration represents is a significant change — not just an acknowledgment of a problem but an articulation of solutions, with a focus on country-led programs and strategies."
The United States is committed to the vital issue of food security. In July, President Obama announced that the United States would commit $3.5 billion over 3 years to sustainable agricultural development. At the President’s request, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been leading a whole-of-government effort to build a comprehensive food security plan.
Meanwhile, the United States maintains its longstanding commitment to providing humanitarian food aid to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The United States is the world's top food donor and the largest contributor to the UN's World Food Programme. In 2008 alone, the U.S. Agency for International Development delivered 2.6 million metric tons of food, worth about 2.6 billion dollars, to 49 countries on 4 continents, benefiting some 56 million people.
By increasing U.S. support to agriculture while maintaining a robust humanitarian response, the United States hopes that in the long term, the risks of countries experiencing food insecurity due to short-term shocks will decrease. "We're seeking to close that gap between development and humanitarian assistance," stated Secretary Clinton on World Food Day, "by dedicating development resources to engage the poorest in the growth process and to support community development."