Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
October 7, 2022
Well, thank you very much. Let me tell you how delighted I am to be here. And so, I don’t know if you guys know who I am. My name is Linda Thomas-Greenfield. And way back before any of you were born, probably before your parents were born, I was a student here at the University of Wisconsin. I came here in 1974, leaving the South, leaving Louisiana for the first time in my life and I’ve always felt connected to Madison, no matter where I went, what country I was living in, I always remain connected to this city.
So now I am President Biden’s and your Ambassador to the United Nations – and that’s kind of like the ambassador to the world. We deal with every single country, every single crisis that you can imagine. One of those crises that we’re dealing with on a daily basis is food insecurity and how to address the global issue of food insecurity, but also how to deal with food insecurity locally in our communities. President Biden just hosted a food summit at the White House looking at the issues of food insecurity in the United States, and how we can ensure that no child ever goes to bed hungry.
I always tell the story that my father’s motto was that my children will never go to bed hungry. And there are so many parents around the world and in the United States who believe that, but they don’t have the wherewithal to ensure that their children not go to bed hungry.
What you are doing here in the community is one way of addressing the issues of hunger in our urban communities around the United States. So, I really want to commend all of you, and thank you for what you’re doing, because what you are doing is making a difference for us around the world.
The global food crisis has been exacerbated over the past few years. COVID-19 was a major contributor with food chain and supply shortages with people not being able to come out that contributed to hunger.
Climate change – and I know you see it every day. I don’t think when I was here in Madison in the 1970s we had a beautiful day like this. I just remembered being really cold in October. And so, the fact that we have such a nice fall day, maybe it’s Indian summer – it’s what we used to call it back then and maybe we still do – but usually by now it would be really, really cold. We’re seeing floods and we’re seeing drought all over the world, and climate is impacting the ability of people around the world to have access to nutritional food.
And then the third contribution to food insecurity is conflict – conflict everywhere in the world, exacerbated by the conflict happening right now, in Ukraine, where Russia has attacked this sovereign country. They’re attacking their food sources and attacking their granaries; they’re making their wheat fields into minefields; they’re blocking ships and boats that were scheduled to deliver food elsewhere in the world.
So, we have a huge, huge food crisis as a result of all of these things, and President Biden has been very direct in ensuring that we all focus on local, as well as the global impact of food insecurity.