Fred de Sam Lazaro & U.S. Food Aid

August 6, 2010 § Leave a comment

Last night I walked into my classroom in a foul mood. I was swearing like a sailor about work, and weekdays, and who knows what else when I found myself in the presence of Fred de Sam Lazaro and his dear friend Jagan Sharma. My favorite storytelling teacher wanted to surprise the class with a guest speaker. At this point my mood changed very quickly.

The fact that Mr. Sam Lazaro has a profile on IMDb is enough to win me over, but I found myself in awe of his professional undertakings, his knowledge and commitment to under-told stories, and his modest approach to public speaking.

Mr. Sam Lazaro spoke on a number of different global issues however it was his explanation of the U.S. food aid crisis that made me both proud and embarrassed to be an American. Don’t be surprised, I am the target market for all motivational speakers, I get easily consumed by every purpose driven public issue. United States food aid is no exception.

Did you know that the United States gives more food aid (by far) than any other country in the world? And this not disaster relief aid, this is regular support for developing nations. If you’re an American, you’re probably feeling pretty good about this fact, I was. There are only 2 requirements for struggling nations to receive U.S. food aid, (1) the aid has to come in the form of food, and (2) the food has to be delivered on ships (or other vessels) hosting the American flag. This seems simple enough. But here’s the other fact, 66% of all U.S. money allocated for food aid is spent on administrative costs. Agh! That really grinds my gears. Many NGOs, like CARE, have refused U.S. food aid because of the administrative hassle and delivery requirements.

Mr. Sam Lazaro went on to suggest U.S. food aid would be better utilized in the form of money (with American flags on it!) so that the recipients can develop local agricultural businesses, help support their economies, and absorb the remaining 66% of fund they are entitled to. However that’s not in the best interest of our nation, which is the determining factor in so many of our countries decisions… We come so far but stumble so easy!

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