90年代末期，兩位參議員開始著手振興、加強全球學童的營養與教育，創設計畫幫助非洲、亞洲、南美與東歐的學校提供餐點給貧窮兒童。他們的提案獲得克林頓總統支持，政府在2000年撥款3億美元，先成立為期兩年的「全球教育糧食發起計畫 」（GFEI） 。
For their international school feeding program and lifelong devotion to food security, former U.S. Senators Robert Dole and George McGovern have been selected to receive the prestigious $250,000 World Food Prize for 2008. Announcing the award in a statement today, the World Food Prize said, "By exerting tireless and creative leadership, Senators McGovern and Dole took significant steps toward ending the cycle of hunger and poverty that affects as many as 300 million chronically malnourished children."
The senators are being honored for the McGovern-Dole international school-feeding program, first established by the United States in 2000. Since then, it has provided meals to feed more than 22 million children in 41 countries and boosted school attendance by an estimated 14 percent overall and by 17 percent for girls.
Throughout their careers, Senator McGovern, a South Dakota Democrat, and Senator Dole, a Kansas Republican, have dedicated themselves to the elimination of hunger. In the 1970s, as leaders of opposing parties, they worked together to reform the federal Food Stamp Program, expand the domestic school lunch program, and establish the Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children, WIC. They built a non-partisan consensus for anti-hunger and anti-poverty programs. By the early 21st century, the national school lunch program they fostered was providing meals to 30 million children.
In the late 1990s, McGovern and Dole began working toward reviving and strengthening global school feeding, nutrition, and education programs. They created a program that would provide poor children with meals at school in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. President Bill Clinton supported the senators’ initiative and, in July 2000, his administration established a two-year pilot program, the Global Food for Education Initiative, GFEI, funded at $300 million.
Under the GFEI, the agricultural agency provided surplus commodities to school-feeding programs operated by international organizations, as well as to the governments of countries that had made commitments to provide universal education. With the support and urging of the two former senators, In 2002 Congress passed legislation establishing a permanent international school feeding program.
When children are eating enough, they display improved cognition and better all-round academic performance; there are increases in local employment and parental involvement in school activities; and participation by local governments in supporting school-feeding efforts, the senators recognize. On the other hand, hungry children have difficulty learning, and malnutrition often leads to permanently stunted physical and cognitive development. Inspired by McGovern and Dole, school feeding programs have gained recognition and support at the highest levels of national and international governance.
The McGovern-Dole Program emphasizes benefiting girls and young women and overcoming gender inequalities in literacy and access to education. Traditionally, young girls in many developing countries are often kept out of school to work in the home performing child care, elder care, and other domestic chores, or are sent out to earn a living. But when meals are available at school, girls and young women are much more likely to be allowed or encouraged to enroll.
Thousands of tons of wheat, soybeans, corn, wheat flour, cornmeal, corn-soy blend, rice, lentils, dry beans and vegetable oil have been shipped to participant countries through the auspices of the McGovern-Dole Program. These resources are used by local officials to provide school meals and snacks to children. Looking to the future, the McGovern-Dole Program is moving toward increasing the amount of cash awarded while also implementing a new bartering system to diversify the commodities and foodstuffs that the program provides.