Food Prices Force Aid Group to Cut Back

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Surging food prices could be affecting the groups that set out to feed those in need.

World Vision, one of the largest humanitarian organizations, announced Tuesday a possible 23 percent decrease in numbers fed due to rising costs and demand.

"Despite our best efforts, more than a million of our beneficiaries are no longer receiving food aid," said Dean Hirsch, president of World Vision International. "At least a third of these are children who urgently need enough healthy food to thrive."

World Vision provides nearly 450,000 metric tons of food in some 30 countries, but may not be able to feed 1.5 million of the 6.5 million people it helped last year.

The Christian group is now calling on donors and leaders worldwide to step in.

"In addition to providing food for urgent hunger needs, it is essential to invest in long-term agricultural development, improve access to credit and to markets for struggling farmers, and to enact fair trade policies." said Robert Zachritz, World Vision's director of advocacy and government relations in the U.S. "Global leaders must act now to support long-term projects that will help prevent vulnerable communities from being malnourished as a result of the price increases."

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon held talks in Switzerland Monday with 27 key development agencies on how to tackle the food crisis.

He hopes the two-day conference will end with an emergency plan of action.

"This is an exciting time for the United Nations, but it is also a time when we are challenged to exert our best efforts to rise to the expectations that the world is placing on us," he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation's Food Price Index, which measures the market prices of basic food groups, was 57 percent higher in March 2008 than the year before.

Malnutrition has already contributed to the deaths of more than 3.7 million.

Sources: CBN News, World Vision, AFP

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