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Worldwide Lunch Program Proposed

May 30, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton has asked his administration to consider establishing an international school lunch program similar to the federal one that subsidizes meals in American schools.

Former Sen. George McGovern, U.S. representative to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, proposed the feeding program to Clinton last week at a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and other administration officials.

After Clinton heard McGovern’s pitch, ``We were instructed to go and flesh the idea out,″ Glickman said Tuesday at a nutrition conference. ``The president gave us a green light to go out and develop this program.″

An estimated 300 million children in Africa, Asia and Latin America suffer from malnutrition, including 150 million, mostly girls, who don’t go to school, McGovern said.

The Agriculture Department subsidizes lunches for 27 million U.S. children, including 15 million who get meals for free or at reduced prices. The program cost $6 billion last year.

The availability of free lunches would improve nutrition overseas, attract kids to school who otherwise would get no education and provide an outlet for surplus U.S. farm commodities, McGovern said.

``Nobody has been able to find a better way to get them to school than to offer them lunch,″ he said.

McGovern was a leading advocate for federal nutrition programs while serving in the Senate from South Dakota in the 1960s and 1970s. He ran for president three times, in 1968, 1972 and 1984.

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