The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to direct $50 million in foreign assistance under the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. The assistance includes donations for 13 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and will feed nearly 2 million children.

“With this announcement, USDA's food for education programs will have provided nutritious school meals to some 11 million children in developing countries since 2001,” says Secretary of Agriculture Ann. M. Veneman. “These programs increase access to education, improve child nutrition, build new classrooms and extend health services for some of the world's poorest children.”

The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program helps support education, child development and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries committed to universal education. It provides for donations of U.S. agricultural products as well as financial and technical assistance for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects.

Food for education assistance includes a variety of commodities purchased on the U.S. market and donated by USDA. The commodities will go to private voluntary organizations, the United Nation's World Food Program and one foreign government.

Detailed agreements will be negotiated for each donation and announced as they are completed.

USDA also provides international food assistance though section 416(b) of the Agricultural Act of 1949 and through the Food for Progress program.

The McGovern-Dole program was authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and is administered by USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service. The program is named in honor former senators George McGovern and Robert Dole for their efforts to encourage a global commitment to school feeding and child nutrition.

The countries earmarked to receive the latest round of funding are Afghanistan, Bolivia, Republic of Congo, Cote d'Icoire, Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Gambia, Guatemala, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Moldova and Mozambique.