UN Pleads for $500M in Food Aid

May cut food shipments to 73M hungry
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2008 4:59 AM CDT
Afghan labors download sacks of wheat provided by World Food Program on the out skirts of Kabul.
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(Newser) – A United Nations food program has issued an extraordinary emergency plea for an extra $500 million in aid, warning that shipments to the world's hungry may be rationed if the money can't be raised over the next month, reports the Financial Times. The World Food Program feeds some 73 million people in 80 countries.

A 20% hike in food costs, soaring oil prices and increased shipping expenses have stretched the agency's $3.3 billion budget to the limit. "We urge your government to be as generous as possible,” the head of the program wrote to donor nations. The US is the largest contributor to the program, donating $1.1 billion last year, mostly in food shipments, followed by the European Union, which contributed $250 million, and Canada, which chipped in $160 million.