Food Aid Webinar Puts Rice at Center for Pandemic Relief

Children sit at a table, woman prepares to dish out food from a green bucket, everyone is colorfully dressed
School feeding programs rely on fortified rice
Nov 13, 2020
ARLINGTON, VA -- Yesterday USA Rice hosted the fourth and final in a series of international trade-focused webinars, this time highlighting food aid and fortified rice in particular.  Titled “Fortified Rice in the COVID-19 Era,” the webinar brought together panelists from U.S. food assistance agencies to discuss usage trends, product updates, and the benefits of fortified rice in feeding a pandemic-stricken world.

Presenters from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and World Food Program USA (WFP) outlined how their food assistance programs work and how rice fits into their plans.  In FY20, USAID and WFP saw significant growth in the use of fortified rice in their programs and expect that trend to continue.  One notable highlight discussed by USDA was that all nine new McGovern-Dole Food for Education projects awarded in FY20 included rice in their programming, and eight of the nine included fortified rice.  

“Panelists across the board presented a very positive outlook for fortified rice, both in terms of recent growth and implementation, as well as increased usage in the near future,” said Rebecca Bratter, the USA Rice food aid consultant who moderated the event.

More than 60 people tuned in for the webinar and attendees included USA Rice Food Aid Subcommittee members, food aid representatives from other ag commodity groups, and a wide range of government and PVO staff.  Part of the presentation included a “cook off” where Bratter prepared samples of both fortified and regular milled rice to demonstrate that there is almost no discernible difference in the final cooked products.  USA Rice offered to send samples of fortified rice to attendees for in-person comparisons.

“We are thrilled with the turnout for this important food aid event,” said Bratter.  “Fortified rice usage has grown steadily since its initial addition to the master commodity list in 2015, and it has the potential to fight not only food insecurity but chronic malnutrition, both of which are unfortunately growing problems around the world.  It was gratifying to hear our presenters provide such thoughtful and enthusiastic reviews of how fortified rice is programmed in each of their respective offices.”

Go here to access all the webinars and presentations in this series.