U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) have taken the lead on sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging his Administration to make a strong commitment to tackling malnutrition at the June 8, 2013 Nutrition for Growth Summit.
"We have the safest, most reliable and affordable food supply in the world, but hunger has no boundaries. Unfortunately there are children in our country who go to bed hungry every night. The same stories play out all over the globe. Investments in nutrition that focus on the first thousand days, from pregnancy to age two, not only saves lives, but also contribute directly to other development outcomes, including improved economic growth. Taking steps to address malnutrition and food security will make a real impact in the future success of these children," Senator Boozman said.
"Too many children in the U.S. and around the world go to bed without knowing where or when their next meal may come. Nutrition is vital to cognitive development and individual' productivity within societies and the U.S. must continue to leverage its global leadership on nutrition and food security," said Senator Cardin. "Malnutrition accounts for one-third of all child deaths and is something that is simply and cheaply prevented. It is in our national security and economic security to work to ensure this happens."
In addition to Senators Boozman and Cardin, the letter signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Susan Collins (R-ME), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) asks the President to use this G8 opportunity to leverage U.S. leadership on nutrition and food security.
The following is full text of the letter:
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
As members of Congress committed to reducing hunger, advancing food security and improving global health, we urge your administration to maintain the strong U.S. commitment at the Nutrition for Growth summit being convened by the UK Government on June 8, 2013 in London. This event presents a key opportunity for the U.S. to continue to demonstrate its leadership on nutrition.
Malnutrition remains one of the world's most pressing but preventable problems. Globally, nearly 200 million children are chronically malnourished and suffer from serious, often irreversible, physical and cognitive damage. For 2.5 million young children every year, malnutrition is a death sentence.
While the human and economic costs of under-nutrition are enormous, the solutions are basic, proven, and cost-effective. Nutrition programs -- especially those that target women and children during the critical 1,000 day window from pregnancy to age two -- offer one of the best returns on investment. Every $1 invested in nutrition generates as much as $138 in better health and increased productivity. In contrast, malnutrition can cost individuals up to 10 percent of their lifetime earnings and countries up to 11 percent of their annual GDP in lost productivity.
We capitalize on other international development investments when we address nutrition. An undernourished child has a diminished capacity to learn and work, therefore, malnourishment puts at risk the potential for continued progress in education, health, and economic growth around the world.
On June 8th, global leaders -- from donor and developing countries, foundations, civil society and the private sector -- will gather at the Nutrition for Growth summit in advance of the G8 Summit to commit to tackling malnutrition. This is a unique opportunity to leverage U.S. leadership on these issues and we urge your administration to seize this opportunity by:
Pledging support for plans in poor countries to strengthen and expand nutrition interventions;
Developing a whole-of-government nutrition strategy to coordinate and align U.S. nutrition efforts; and
Committing to transparency and accountability by reporting and tracking U.S. investments in nutrition across programs and accounts.
The U.S. has a strong, bipartisan history of supporting international nutrition and food security efforts. Such interventions strengthen our national security and the security of our allies. We urge you to make the most of this opportunity by continuing the tradition of U.S. leadership to fight malnutrition.
Benjamin L. Cardin
Barbara A. Mikulski