People waited in long lines in front of Room 2226 in the Rayburn House Office Building on Tuesday to get free Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, served to promote peace.
Sept. 21 marked the U.N. declared International Day of Peace. The Peace Alliance and Ben & Jerry’s held an ice cream scooping event on Capitol Hill to urge members of Congress to “Get the Scoop on Peace through Prevention.”
Bob Baskin, director of the Peace Alliance, welcomed the first of three invited groups and said, “We all know why you are here: for the ice-cream”.
He quickly turned to the main topic and introduced representatives of three peace groups.
The groups were seeking support for budget funding for international peace building in three accounts:
• The U.S. Institute of Peace: $39 million. USIP works to save lives, increase the government's ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs and enhance U.S. national security.
• The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Conflict Stabilization Operations: $56 million. USAID funds the Civilian Response Corps and the new Conflict Stabilization Operations bureau, focusing on preventing deadly conflict in countries struggling with or at risk from conflict or civil strife.
• USAID’s International Development’s Complex Crises Fund: $50 million. This account provides money not tied to particular programs to prevent and respond to emerging or unforeseen crises.
“Cup or cone?” volunteers asked Capitol Hill workers who came to taste Ben & Jerry’s ice creams, including chocolate fudge and cherry garcia.
It turned out that the cows on the event’s poster were not there only to represent Ben & Jerry’s but also to symbolize the costs of war.
Susan Allen Nan, associate professor of conflict analysis and resolution, at George Mason University, said, “We don’t want a new war to start because cows don’t know where the cease-fire line is, so farmers would go retrieve them, and the violence erupts.”
Bobby Vassar, chief counsel for the minority staff of the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, ate some ice cream before his speech.
He talked about the Youth Promise Act, introduced in 2011 by Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., that would provide funding to local governments to prevent juvenile delinquency and street gangs. No action has been taken on the bill.
Vassar called it “common sense legislation that prevents crime, saves lives, saves communities, saves you and saves money.”
Andy Barker, social mission specialist at Ben & Jerry’s said that the company has core values that include social and economic justice, so the company sought an opportunity to enable them to promote the cause.
More than a thousand congressional staff members ate ice cream during the event.
A Peace Alliance spokesman said many were eager to learn more about international and domestic peace-building initiatives.