Former U.S. Senator and Ambassador to the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome George McGovern died on Sunday at the age of 90. George McGovern’s dedication to combating global hunger helped drive food and agriculture development around the world. The loss of this important global champion of the poor is particularly felt here at the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, where he served as Ambassador from 1998-2001. Ambassador David Lane, who attended Mr. McGovern’s 90th birthday celebration this past July, noted “Senator McGovern lived a rich and influential life. His deep commitment to end hunger was a force for good throughout his life, from his early days as a public servant to his later years, when he continued to be a powerful advocate for the world’s poor and hungry.”
Mr. McGovern was raised in a South Dakota farm community during the Depression and was a decorated bomber pilot in Italy during World War II. The poverty he viewed as a child and in wartime Italy shaped his lifetime commitments to promoting peace and feeding the world.
He served in the U.S. Congress from 1957 to 1961 and the U.S. Senate from 1963 to 1981. In the early 1960s, he formed the U.S. Food for Peace program, and helped create the World Food Program in 1963.
The McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, which he created in conjunction with Senator Robert Dole, has fed 22 million children in 41 countries. In 2008, the senators were awarded the World Food Prize in honor of this program and “their inspired, collaborative leadership that has encouraged a global commitment to school feeding and enhanced school attendance and nutrition for millions of the world’s poorest children, especially girls.”
For the past ten years, the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome has honored his accomplishments through the annual McGovern Lecture at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization.