WASHINGTON — U.S. foreign food assistance would receive a big boost if the president’s fiscal 2010 budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture is approved by Congress.

The budget, detailed earlier this week, proposed a doubling in appropriated funding for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program in fiscal 2010 to nearly $200 million from the $100 million authorized in the 2009 budget (the Congress subsequently authorized an additional $84 million for the program for use in fiscal 2009, bringing projected spending in the current year to $184 million).

The McGovern-Dole program provides for the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities and associated financial and technical assistance to carry out preschool and school feeding programs in developing nations. Maternal, infant and child nutrition programs also are authorized under the program. Its purpose is to reduce the incidence of hunger and malnutrition and improve literacy and primary education. The program has a strong track record and enjoys broad congressional support.

The budget proposed funding P.L.480 Title II food donations to other nations at $1,690 million, up from an authorized $1,226 million in fiscal 2009 and $1,211 million in fiscal 2008. It should be noted separate emergency appropriations to provide funding for additional P.L.480 Title II donations in the current year was expected to bring total spending on the nation’s principal program for donating food abroad to an estimated $1,921 million in fiscal 2009.

The U.S.D.A. budget statement noted, "By providing additional funding to the program, the budget request reduces reliance on future emergency supplemental funding and reflects the fact that worldwide emergency needs for food assistance have increased substantially in recent years."

The department’s budget proposed funding of $146 million for Food for Progress, down from an estimated $206 million in fiscal 2009. Food for Progress authorizes the provision of U.S. agricultural commodities to developing countries and emerging democracies that have made commitments to introduce and expand free enterprise in their agricultural economies. The budget assumed the $146 million in funding would support approximately 155,000 tonnes of commodity assistance.

The president’s budget would provide $25 million in funding for purchases of food in localities and regions close to where emergency hunger outbreaks occur. The funding was required under the 2008 farm act, which created a pilot program to assess the effectiveness of local and regional food purchases. The program was authorized through 2012.

The proposed increases in food assistance were consistent with the administration’s goals of doubling the level of foreign assistance and fostering world food security.