MAY 19, 1959
NEW YORK. —I wrote a short time ago about the situation in a certain part of Haiti which had assumed famine proportions. The State Department has just sent me the most interesting memorandum about the way some of our food surpluses have been used over the three months period, January through March 1959, in Haiti.
The distribution of this food is in the hands of Catholic Relief Services, Church World Services, and CARE, which has only recently undertaken a program in Haiti. In April of this year Church World Services shipped to Haiti 300,000 pounds of flour, 318,000 pounds of corn meal and 387,000 pounds of dried milk and since May 1 they have shipped another 660,000 pounds of dried milk. In April the Catholic Relief Services shipped 250,000 pounds of flour, 508,000 pounds of corn meal, and 435,000 pounds of dried milk have gone out since May 1.
The State Department informs me that the great difficulty is the distribution of food. The U.S. Operations Mission in Haiti, the American Embassy, and a group of American businessmen have all loaned trucks to get this food into the northwestern part of the country, but, of course, it is a very difficult country for transportation. Officials going to inspect have had to go by jeep, horseback and even on foot. The officials are finding, however, that in spite of severe local food shortages famine conditions do not seem to be acute.
I cannot help wondering whether what we send is always geared to the people's needs or geared to our surpluses, which we want to get rid of. It has been on my mind for a long time that our Department of Agriculture should start, in cooperation with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a survey of the most-needed and acceptable foods in different parts of the world. Then we should undertake a planning campaign here in conjunction with our farmers to produce the needed surpluses.
I sometimes think that we have surpluses in foods which we might profitably cut down on because they are of less value to the people who really need help than some other foods which we do not produce in excess. This should not be done just for Haiti, but for all parts of the world, including those areas where countries' own production is inadequate.
I went up to the country Saturday noon and along the parkway the dogwood is just beginning to be perfect. There are masses of pink and white wherever you look.
The winter seems to have been very hard for us in Hyde Park, and I have lost a number of shrubs and our rhododondron bushes suffered terribly. Even the dogwood around my house is slow coming out but it shows signs of blooming satisfactorily. In the woods the dogwood has fared better because it had more protection.
Sunday night I went to a delightful dinner given by Yeshiva Theological Seminary at which President A. Whitney Griswold of Yale and I received the school's Brotherhood Award. This was a very great honor for me and I appreciate it very much.