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Ukraine war, inflation causing global food insecurity, Yellen says

Posted at 10:46 AM, Apr 19, 2022

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged world finance leaders to “get concrete” as they look for ways to combat a looming crisis over food insecurity around the globe that Russia’s war in Ukraine has made worse.

Yellen says the threat “touches the most vulnerable people the hardest — families that are already spending disproportionate amounts of their income on food.”

She told fellow finance leaders during a food security meeting Tuesday that ”the interconnectedness of the global food system means that people on every continent are impacted.”

Among the proposed solutions under discussion are reducing export restrictions, relieving price controls across countries and subsidizing small farmers globally.

“The war has made an already dire situation worse. Price and supply shocks are already materializing, adding to global inflationary pressures, creating risks to external balances, and undermining the recovery from the pandemic,” Yellen said. “I want to be clear: Russia’s actions are responsible for this. But the United States is urgently working with our partners and allies to help mitigate the effects of Russia’s reckless war on the world’s most vulnerable.”

Domestically, officials from Feeding America said inflation is affecting food insecurity.

“The reality is too many neighbors must continuously be forced to make difficult decisions between paying for food or other necessities like rent and medicines. Nearly one-third of a low-income household’s budget is spent on food, and any incremental increases to food prices can have a dramatic effect to their overall stability and security,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America. “Community food assistance continues to be an essential piece of a household’s budget planning. In order for the Feeding America network of food banks, food pantries, and meal programs to continue to provide food and assistance to the tens of millions of people turning to us for help, we need continued support from both the public and private sector.”

While Ukraine remains a focus for the global community, the United Nations says needs remain dire elsewhere. The UN cited a drought in the Horn of Africa as causing a mass famine in the region.

“We believe that the Ukraine crisis has indeed taken some of the lustre from the needs of the Horn of Africa region,” said Chimimba David Phiri, food and agriculture Organization subregional coordinator for Eastern Africa.  “It is important for the world that while they are considering the needs of Ukraine, that they also consider the needs for the Horn of Africa.”