Image: Bob Dole and George McGovern
AP file
Former Sens. Bob Dole, left, and George McGovern are being honored for their efforts to fight world hunger.
updated 10/14/2008 1:36:09 PM ET 2008-10-14T17:36:09

Former presidential candidates Bob Dole and George McGovern both saw their presidential ambitions quashed in landslide elections.

But this week the former senators will be winners of a different sort of prize — they're being honored in Des Moines with the World Food Prize for their efforts to curb hunger in the world.

"There's a significant message that's included by having them both honored, one Democrat, one Republican," said Kenneth M. Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize Foundation.

Dole, a Kansas Republican, and McGovern, a South Dakota Democrat, are being honored for creating the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Nutrition Program.

Established in 2000, the program has provided more than 22 million meals to children in 41 countries. Dole and McGovern will be formally recognized on Thursday, though they were announced as winners of the prize in June.

'The Nobel Prize for hunger'
Norman Borlaug, a native Iowan and the winner of the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for spurring the so-called "Green Revolution," established the World Food Prize in 1986 to honor the efforts of those who work to solve global hunger problems. The distinction carries with it a $250,000 cash prize, which Dole and McGovern will split.

Observers have called the prize the Nobel Prize for hunger. In 2006, Muhammad Yunus, the 1994 World Food Prize Laureate, went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize for his "efforts to create economic and social development from below."

The award presentation to Dole and McGovern will be only part of the festivities this week for a foundation that has prided itself on being prescient about issues of global hunger.

For the second year, there will be an Iowa Hunger Summit on Tuesday, followed by a two-day symposium with prominent speakers from government, private industry and philanthropy. This year's topic is "Confronting Crisis: Agriculture and Global Development in the Next Fifty Years."

Foundation spokesman Justin Cremer said that this year's forum was coming at a particularly apt time because the world has been suffering through food shortage and worry has grown about escalating costs of food.

"We put the agenda together this year before the crisis, on a world scale, had really become what it is," he said. "We pride ourselves on starting important conversations here," he said.

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