The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today announced that a celebrated development economist, Professor Sir Hans Singer, has been chosen as this year's Food for Life Award recipient, in recognition of his lifelong fight against world hunger.
Mr. Singer, who was knighted by Queen Elisabeth II in 1994, had served as chairman of the UN committee that proposed the creation of WFP four decades ago.
"I am very honoured," Mr. Singer said from his home in Brighton, England. "The thought that even a single person, that a single child, might have been saved from death and starvation from the existence of the World Food Programme is in itself sufficient in my mind to justify what we did then."
WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini described Professor Singer as one of the world's foremost thinkers on development who has repeatedly pointed out the vital role food aid plays in helping the poor.
"Sir Hans is a great academic and a visionary on food aid," she said. "He has made the issue of poverty reduction his lifelong mission. As WFP celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, we are very proud to give him this award."
The recipient, who has written extensively about development issues, has advocated food aid as a long-term tool to reduce poverty. He lauds WFP's school feeding projects as simple but effective ways that help individuals while yielding tangible results for society. WFP, which is the largest provider of meals to poor school children in the developing world, feeds more than 12 million students in 54 countries.
"School feeding has the added advantage of increasing school attendance," explained Professor Singer. "It becomes worthwhile sending children to school if they get a good meal."
Born in Germany in 1910, Mr. Singer completed a Doctorate degree in Economics at Cambridge University. After working in academia, he joined the UN Secretariat, where he served from 1947-1969. Currently, he is Professor Emeritus at Sussex University's prestigious Institute of Development Studies in England.