Peace Corps Director Addresses World Food Day Forum on Capitol Hill
October 16, 1997Washington, D.C., October 16, 1997—In honor of World Food Day today, Peace Corps Director Mark Gearan appeared on a panel on food security on Capitol Hill, discussing ways Peace Corps volunteers are working to bring food to some of the more than 800 million people around the world who go to bed hungry each night. "Peace Corps Volunteers have a long history of helping people in developing countries gain access to secure supplies of food," Gearan said. "The special role that our volunteers play is at the micro-economic or 'household' level, where we believe a big part of the solution lies. Volunteers work directly with families to bring food to their table. No other agency has the people power to develop direct relationships with families in so many countries." Gearan's appearance was part of an all-day schedule of activities on Capitol Hill to commemorate the 14th annual World Food Day. Peace Corps volunteers play a variety of roles in food security, Gearan said. For example, some volunteers work with farmers to use sustainable agricultural methods to grow crops on hillsides. Others help encourage the use of alternative energy sources instead of wood for fuel; still others teach people how to grow food rich in vitamins and minerals and encourage them to incorporate these foods into their diet. Some volunteers even help families increase their income by drying or preserving food and then selling it. About 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers work directly in "food production," while another 3,000 work indirectly on household food security. Overall, there are about 6,500 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 87 countries, working to help fight hunger, bring clean water to communities, teach children, start new small businesses, and prevent the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 150,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.