Two men who ran for president in the last century and lost were in Iowa this week as co-winners of the $250,000 World Food Prize. George McGovern and Bob Dole were honored for their work on world hunger issues.
Dole, a long-time U.S. Senator from Kansas, was the 1996 Republican nominee for president. "Eisenhower said it. Others have said it a different way: ‘The road to peace is through someone’s stomach,’" Dole says. "How can you expect these people who have nothing to eat and hardly anything to wear or a place to live to be happy and content?"
Dole says "remembering the poor" is a moral obligation and many Americans have taken up the cause. "You know Senator McGovern and I are sort of a fading generation," Dole says. "We need to stimulate not just students but companies and others — and there are thousands of people involved all over America."
The two men — while they were members of the United States Senate — added significant government food and nutrition programs onto the Farm Bill. McGovern says it was a tactical move to get votes from urban lawmakers who didn’t like farm subsidies but liked the Women, Infants and Children and food stamps programs. "They have strong appeal all across the country…It’s just good political strategy," McGovern says.
Dole says Farm Bills were hard to get through the U.S. House and in one instance a Farm Bill passed the House by just one vote. "If it works, why not use it?" Dole asks of their strategy of marrying food and nutrition programs with farm policy.
The international school lunch program Dole and McGovern helped create is now providing nine million children hot porridge or some other stick-to-the-ribs food each day. "When I was in the ‘Food for Peace’ program in the Kennedy Administration…we stopped in Rome at the end of a mission and had a private meeting…with the pope," McGovern says, "and he came bustling into the room, shook hands with everybody around there and I told him about the mission had been and he said, ‘When you go meet your maker and he says, ‘Dd you do feed the hungry?’ you can say, ‘I did.’"
McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee for president, was a long-time senator from South Dakota. The two elder statesmen made their comments during an appearance on the "Iowa Journal" on Iowa Public Television.