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What Could You Do With a Billion Dollar Bracket Prize?
It’s playoff time in college basketball, and there’s a billion-dollar prize for picking a perfect men’s* bracket. Since Bread for the World is hopeful even in the face of overwhelming odds, you can follow along with our staff picks here.
What if the really, really unlikely happens: someone picks a perfect bracket, and he or she decides to use the whole prize to help end hunger? Let’s assume the lucky winner takes the $500 million lump-sum award instead of the 40-year annuity and eliminates any tax burden by donating the entire amount to nonprofits or the U.S. Treasury (yes, contributions to federal, state, or local governments are deductible).
- The prize money could scale up nutrition supplementation in the 36 countries with the highest hunger burdens: all young children would receive enough Vitamin A and micronutrients and all pregnant women would have healthy levels of iron and folic acid. This would reduce the incidence of blindness and birth defects in those countries.
- It would pay for the president’s request (through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative, a supplemental budget package that operates outside Congress’ discretionary spending rules) for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and National Institute for Food and Agriculture. The research funded could help prevent poultry diseases like bird flu, develop agricultural practices to adapt to climate change, or find alternatives to antibiotics to keep livestock healthy.
- Or it could more than triple current U.S. investments in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. The FY15 proposed budget would completely eliminate U.S. contributions to this program; even if the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative is funded, U.S. contributions to GAFSP will decline by $53 million in 2015. GAFSP was the impetus for the creation of Feed the Future, now one of our main development assistance programs.
- The amount of food distributed by charities in the United States this year could increase by more than 10 percent.
- There could be a 9-cent increase in the subsidy for each meal provided through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (which is enough to provide a healthier school breakfast or lunch). There would still be enough left over to double the proposed FY15 funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, The Emergency Food Assistance Program, the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program, and the Senior Farmer’s Market Assistance Program—and to keep the Fruits and Vegetables Pilot going.
It’s going to take a sustained global effort to end hunger and poverty. No one—not even someone who picks a perfect bracket—can do that alone. But it would be a really good start.
* We thought it was important to offer information about the women’s tournament as well—especially considering that Bread for the World Institute’s upcoming hunger report focuses on women’s empowerment and March is International Women’s Month.
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