Letter: Thanksgiving and global malnutrition: A paradox

Every year when Thanksgiving rolls around, many find themselves with full plates and days worth of leftovers. Despite this, millions around the world find themselves struggling to meet even the minimum nutritional requirements.

Young children are particularly vulnerable to negative effects of malnutrition. Even before COVID-19, poor nutrition was the underlying cause of nearly half of all deaths of children under 5. The first 1,000 days of life — from pregnancy to a child's second birthday — is a window of tremendous physical and cognitive development. Adequate calories and micronutrients like Vitamin A are crucial to help children grow, learn, and thrive. Experts predict that pandemic-related disruptions to food and health systems could cause up to a 50 percent rise in global malnutrition. Failure to act now will have devastating consequences for future generations.

With that said, bold U.S. leadership on nutrition is needed. The Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act (S.2956/H.R.4693) is led by Sens. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and Young Kim (R-Calif.), and it provides hope. This legislation better positions USAID, our country’s main international development agency, to support countries to save more lives.

I urge Sens. Murphy and Blumenthal and Reps. Himes, DeLauro, Hayes, Larson, and Courtney to support the Global Malnutrition Prevention and Treatment Act and encourage their colleagues to do the same. All children deserve a strong start in life, regardless of where they are born.

Ajshe Zulfi


The writer is a medical student at the University of Connecticut.