A Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger food pantry volunteer assists a...

A Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger food pantry volunteer assists a recipient. Credit: Jason Shaltiel

While voters wade through political complexities during this election year, global poverty seems to be far from anyone’s mind. However, we neglect this fundamental threat to our national security and economy at our peril.

An estimated 870 million people experience chronic hunger each day. That’s millions of people who cannot feed themselves and at the same time cannot get an education. The desperation of destitution may drive some to subscribe to counterproductive ideologies. The common enemy we face is global poverty.

Foreign aid encompasses less than 1 percent of the whole U.S. federal budget. Within foreign aid, organizations such as the U.S. Agency for International Development must follow strict requirements: Food aid must come from U.S. farmers and must be transported on U.S.-flagged vessels. This means a lot of our tax dollars are spent inefficiently.

If these requirements were waived, as proposed under the Food for Peace Reform Act, our tax dollars could buy the most competitively priced food from local and regional sources. The aid would still go through the same rigorous vetting and inspection. Supporters of this legislation estimate that 8 million to 12 million more people could benefit.

Jeff Abella

New Hyde Park