Bob Dole and George McGovern: A Nutrition Legacy that Continues

For many years in the Senate, Senator Bob Dole (R-KS) teamed up with Senator George McGovern (D-SD) to create a legacy of bipartisan leadership on nutrition.  Working together in the 1970s, they completely reformed the Food Stamp Program (now SNAP); established the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations; with Senator Humphrey, created the Women’s Infants and Children’s Program (WIC); reformed the School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and; started the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (“Temporary” was later changed to “The” so it remained TEFAP). 

After they left the Senate, they continued to work together.  They went to visit with President Clinton about global nutrition, which resulted in the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, an international school food service program.  Started as a discretionary program, McGovern-Dole has since been codified by Congress and remains permanent law feeding millions of children in schools all over the world.  According to the most recent USDA report, McGovern-Dole is currently reaching over 4.1 million people through 46 active projects in 30 countries.

Senator McGovern has passed but Senator Dole continues the work, always referencing Senator McGovern. So far this year, Senator Dole has written two important letters on nutrition:

  1. On February 5, he wrote to President Biden about the UN Food Systems Summit.  It referred to the President as “still a young man compared to me, so I have no doubt you’ll make our nation proud.”  Dole urged the President to give the UN Food Summit his attention and support sound science at the UN.
  2. More recently, on April 15, he wrote to Chairman Jim McGovern (D-MA02) (no relation to the Senator) and Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK04), in support of a second White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health.  The first was held by President Nixon in 1969.  In the letter Senator Dole said, “Our nation must keep making strides to end food insecurity.”

In short, Bob Dole remains the man to see when it comes to food insecurity both in the USA and around the world.  He continues an extraordinary legacy that feeds millions of hungry people every day. Dole always says that all he did was follow McGovern, but that was never true.  They were true partners and, amazingly, Dole still speaks for McGovern on food insecurity.  We need more partnerships like that.


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