Raja Krishnamoorthi and Darin LaHood: Ending child hunger should be a priority for all of us
By Raja Krishnamoorthi and Darin LaHood
As Members of Congress on opposite sides of the aisle, there is no shortage of issues on which we disagree. In many ways, the differences between the districts we represent — one in suburban Chicago, the other downstate in central and west-central Illinois — are a microcosm of the growing divide in our country.
But we are united in the shared experience of fatherhood and the instinct to protect, provide for and nurture our children. Like fathers everywhere, we have heard our children exclaim “Dad, I’m hungry,” countless times. Yet while we have had the ability and the resources to meet our children’s needs, millions of parents in our country and around the world are not so fortunate.
As fathers, we cannot imagine being unable to answer our children’s cries. That is why we are proud to stand together in support of H.Res.189, a resolution calling for continued U.S. leadership and accelerated progress against hunger and malnutrition, especially in the critical 1,000 days between conception and the child’s second birthday.
Just as our children have had the opportunity to grow and reach their full potential, we believe every child deserves the same, whether she is born in Peoria or Palatine or Panama. Tragically, even short bouts of malnutrition during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life robs her of that opportunity.
Nearly half of all child deaths worldwide are related to malnutrition, amounting to nearly 2.4 million deaths of children under 5 every year. Children who survive malnutrition are often stunted — lagging behind their peers in their physical, cognitive and emotional development — and are more susceptible to illness. As they grow into adulthood, stunting leads to diminished productivity in the workforce. Thus, communities and regions with high rates of malnutrition can become trapped in an intergenerational cycle of poverty and hunger.
But we have the power to break this cycle by helping fathers and mothers nourish their children. Indeed, we have made great progress in reducing malnutrition around the world in recent decades, even as the global population increased. In 2000, for example, chronic malnutrition stunted the growth of almost 200 million children 5 years old and younger. By 2018, that number had dropped by nearly 50 million. This is an historic achievement that would not have been possible without American support and bipartisan leadership. Just last year, U.S. assistance provided nutrition training to almost 613,000 people and reached 28.5 million children with high-impact nutrition services, often through faith-based and humanitarian organizations like Catholic Relief Services and Save the Children.
And while global nutrition receives just three pennies out of every $1,000 of our federal budget, every dollar invested in nutrition generates as much as $166 in benefits related to better health and productivity. This helps our own country as well, as communities become more self-sustaining and resilient, reducing the need for costlier emergency aid and intervention in the future and expanding the global consumer base for U.S. goods.
By supporting H.Res.189, we recognize that when children are nourished to reach their full potential, we all benefit. We encourage our colleagues in both parties to come together and join us in cosponsoring this resolution, and we urge the U.S. House of Representatives to pass it without delay.
Democrat U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi and Republican U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood represent Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives.