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While we weren't looking, Congress passed an amazing bipartisan bill.

"We can't ask a child to feed her mind when she can barely feed her stomach."

While we weren't looking, Congress passed an amazing bipartisan bill.
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Gates Foundation: The Story of Food

This July, while most of us were embracing air conditioning and watching presidential candidates butt heads, Congress did something amazing.

It didn't make many headlines, but it should have. This summer, the House of Representatives tried to pass historic bipartisan legislation. I repeat: historic. bipartisan. legislation.

And they did it!


Political gridlock be gone!

Republicans and Democrats came together to pass the Global Food Security Act, a landmark bill to reduce global hunger.

I like to think this was President Obama when it came to his desk for signature:

Doin' a little happy dance. GIF via "Ellen."

The Global Food Security Act marks the first time in our history that the U.S. government — the largest provider of international aid — has actually passed a comprehensive strategy around food and nutrition security.

This is big on many levels.

The law will work to reduce food insecurity for the nearly 800 million people worldwide who suffer from chronic hunger.

It will help to reduce hunger, malnutrition, and poverty by focusing on agriculture initiatives, small food producers, and the nutrition of women and children.

According to Global Citizen, the $7 billion allocated for the efforts will guarantee two years of funding for food security investments, mainly to smallholder and female farmers. It will also provide two years of funding toward our country's response to natural and man-made disasters, which helps keep America safe by containing conflict. It will also improve the coordination between different parts of the government, helping to reduce waste and increase transparency.

Perhaps the best part is the evidence that these efforts work.

Image via iStock.

In Malawi, for example, every $1 invested in an empowering loan program for women helped to generate $29 for their community. That was just through one program.

In another case, 9 million small-scale farmers and rural families were able to increase their incomes by more than $800 million through improvements to their agricultural practices. That was just over the course of one year. Thanks, Obama.

Can you imagine those results on a much larger scale? That's the beauty of the Global Food Security Act.

Image via iStock.

The law will focus on certain areas of the world, but the U.S. still stands to benefit. How?

In a time when national security is on everyone's radar, reducing hunger will advance stability and security overseas — and in our own backyards.

"We’ve seen how spikes in food prices can plunge millions into poverty and hunger, as well as spark riots that cost lives and lead to instability," says National Security Advisor Susan Rice. "This danger only grows as a surging global population isn’t matched by surging food production."

She's right. We have enough food to feed 12 billion people. And yet, 800 million people are undernourished. Working to reduce global hunger will help advance international peace and security. And that's not just a political move — it's a moral one.

So, thanks, Congress.

Over the years, partisan bickering and polarization has created such extreme gridlock in Washington that many Americans doubt our political process can actually work to make good things happen — so much so that we're shocked when it does.

The passing of this legislation with numerous champions on both sides of the aisle provides hope that bipartisan efforts do stand a chance.

Because, real talk, we can only move forward when we're working together. Investing our resources in ending hunger once and for all is a great place to start.

Simon & Garfunkel's song "Bridge Over Troubled Water" has been covered by more than 50 different musical artists, from Aretha Franklin to Elvis Presley to Willie Nelson. It's a timeless classic that taps into the universal struggle of feeling down and the comfort of having someone to lift us up. It's beloved for its soothing melody and cathartic lyrics, and after a year of pandemic challenges, it's perhaps more poignant now than ever.

A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

But British singer Jacob Collier recently added his own layered harmony tracks to it, taking the performance to a whole other level.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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