World Loses Hero of Global War on Hunger

George McGovern 1922-2012 (photo: courtesy World Food Prize)

Washington,
October 21, 2012

U.S. statesman George McGovern died October 21, and the world’s hungry lost one of their greatest champions. He was 90.

With the 2012 presidential campaign in its final days, Americans are likely to remember the former U.S. senator as an outspoken critic of the United States’ military involvement in Vietnam and for being the unsuccessful Democratic challenger to President Richard Nixon in the 1972 election.

But globally, McGovern’s enduring legacy is focusing attention and resources on fighting hunger, beginning in 1961 as first director of President John Kennedy’s new Food for Peace program, then as a leading visionary in the creation of the U.N. World Food Programme.

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (McGovern-Dole program), administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has helped support education, child development, and food security for some of the world’s poorest children with projects in 44 countries since 2001. The program is named for McGovern and former Republican Senator Robert Dole.

In 2001, McGovern became the World Food Programme’s first global ambassador on world hunger.

“George McGovern dedicated his life to serving the country he loved,” President Obama said October 21. Citing McGovern’s military service as a decorated bomber pilot in World War II, Obama said, “this hero of war became a champion for peace. And after his career in Congress, he became a leading voice in the fight against hunger.”