Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 07/2013

Food Aid for the 21st Century: Saving More Money, Time, and Lives

Kimberly Ann Elliott William McKitterick

June 2013

Center for Global Development


American food aid helps around 50 million people every year, but it could reach millions more. Requiring it to be in kind, purchased in the United States, and transported on US-flagged ships makes food aid less efficient and effective than it should be. President Obama’s FY2014 budget would relax in-kind and cargo preference requirements and eliminate monetization—the practice of donating food aid to private organizations that sell it in developing countries to fund their projects. The US Agency for International Development estimates that such reforms would help food aid reach as many as 4 million more people for the same amount of money. We estimate the effect to be even greater: between 4 million and 10 million. The costs of food aid reform are few, but the benefits would be substantial. Now is the time to bring food aid into the 21st century.