267. Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) to the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen)1


  • Presidential Push on War on Hunger

I like your idea of proposing to the President a meeting with religious leaders on a campaign against hunger.2

[Page 897]

Such a meeting might be linked to a Presidential signing ceremony of a new Food Aid Convention. If, as we hope, final negotiations are concluded around March 6, the “window” for signing now under discussion would be from April 22 to May 6.3 Another possibility would be to schedule the meeting to coincide with the formal presentation of the Hunger Commission’s final report, now expected at the end of February.4 However, the report’s recommendations will be considerably more ambitious than our current program planning. We will not want to give the impression that the President is making a commitment to these religious leaders to support all the report’s proposals.

One reason for scheduling such a meeting for late in April would be the hope that by then the hostage situation will be resolved. It is difficult at this time to gain much public interest in non-Iran/Afghanistan issues.

I would add one cautionary note. We must be careful not to imply that current augmented PL 480 levels necessarily indicate a new “floor” for US food assistance. Until the suspension of grain sales to the Soviet Union, we had intended to hold our PL 480 export volume to the 1979 level in FY 80 and 81. Should commercial grain sales return to normal, and the refugee situation not improve, we might find ourselves in the position by FY 82 of cutting back current PL 480 Title I assistance to keep Title II programs at the new levels.

Anthony Lake5
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, Box 6, TL 1/16–31/80. No classification marking.
  2. Reference is to a January 25 memorandum from Owen to Carter recommending that Carter publicly meet with religious leaders. Owen commented that such a meeting would “be a good way to remind people that even while you are devoting increased attention to the current national security crisis, you continue to be keenly interested in such global issues as world hunger.” (Ibid.) Owen repeated his proposal in a February 8 memorandum to Carter; see Document 268.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 269.
  4. The Presidential Commission on World Hunger released its report in March; see footnote 2, Document 272.
  5. Lake wrote “Tony” above his typed signature.