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World Food Prize hails grassroots efforts

The 2010 World Food Prize, created in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, is being awarded to David Beckmann and Jo Luck.

The prize recognizes their benchmark efforts in shaping Bread for the World and Heifer International into vital grassroots organizations for combating hunger and poverty across the globe.

Beckmann’s endeavors have been aimed at meeting the hunger needs of the poorest people in the world, first through his role at the World Bank and later as head of Bread for the World.

Since 1991, Beckmann has mobilized Bread for the World through a 250,000 constituent contacts per year — letters, e-mails and meetings. Using a network of citizen advocates, he has urged elected officials and policy makers to consider legislation aimed at changing conditions conducive to hunger and poverty.

Under his leadership, Bread’s membership has grown from 44,500 to 72,500. With innovation and passion, Beckmann has rallied support for policy changes focused at long-term hunger solutions:

• Congress has tripled poverty-focused assistance during the past decade — $7.5 billion in FY2000 to $22 billion in FY2010.

• U.S. aid to Africa has quadrupled.

• Domestic nutrition programs and federal food assistance increased from $33 billion in FY2000 to $80 billion in FY2009.

• Farm bill reforms have provided opportunity for struggling families in rural America and the developing world.

The changes have multiple causes, but Beckmann and Bread for the World played a lead role with millions of citizen advocates across the country pressing for change.

In addition, Beckmann founded the U.S Alliance to End Hunger in 2004 and has also helped to strengthen the political influence of many other humanitarian organizations, including: the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, the ONE Campaign, InterAction, World Vision, Feeding America, the Global Foodbanking Network, Universities Fighting World Hunger, Elanco, MAZON: The Jewish Response to Hunger, and the UN Millennium Hunger Task Force.

David Beckmann, a Nebraska native, is a Lutheran pastor and an economist. He has lived and worked in Ghana and Bangladesh and holds degrees from Yale, Christ Seminary, and the London School of Economics.

Jo Luck and Heifer International

Advocating on behalf of the world’s resource-poor hungry, Luck has been tireless in her efforts as Heifer International CEO. Heifer is a premier hunger-fighting organization, focused on providing food- and income-producing animals to the world’s poor — guiding them toward self-reliance and improved livelihood.

As CEO, Luck has expanded Heifer activities around the world, with a focus on alleviating hunger and poverty through education, animal husbandry, and self-sustaining practices.

Luck has coupled grassroots donors with recipients in poverty-stricken countries, increasing awareness worldwide about global hunger and poverty.

Under Luck’s leadership, Heifer has enabled 12 million families, including 1.5 million families in 2009, to feed themselves and contribute to feeding others through Heifer’s practice of “Passing on the Gift,” which asks every recipient family to give a female offspring of their animal to another family in need.

Luck’s innovative approaches at Heifer:

• Increasing public understanding of how choices made by people in rich countries affect others globally.

• Calling on supporters to make financial contributions that sponsor more than 30 kinds of livestock.

• Building capacity in poor communities to produce sustainable food and sustainable livelihoods.

Jo Luck served as president and CEO of Heifer International, headquartered in Arkansas, from 1992 to 2010. In 2010 she stepped down as CEO and will remain president until 2011. She attended Hendrix College and earned a degree at David Lipscomb College. Luck attended the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School, Executive Education Program.

“I extend my heartfelt congratulations to my friend Jo as she receives this tremendous honor,” said U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln, co-chair of the U.S. Senate Hunger Caucus. “Her tireless work to fight world hunger is to be commended, and I believe there is no better recipient for this recognition. Under her guidance, and with the efforts of the entire Heifer team, Heifer International has become a world-class leader in fighting hunger across the globe. All Arkansans can take pride in knowing that both Jo and Heifer International call our state home.”

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