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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Electronic Information and Publications Office > Biographies > Biographies Listed Alphabetically by Last Name
Picture of Eric M. BostBIOGRAPHY

Eric M. Bost
Ambassador, South Africa
Term of Appointment: 06/29/2006 to present

Eric M. Bost was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa by President George W. Bush on July 20, 2006 after being confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Ambassador on June 29.

Ambassador Bost previously served as Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services (FNCS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before his appointment to that position, Ambassador Bost served as Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of the Texas Department of Human Services (DHS).

Ambassador Bost provides leadership to one of the largest U.S. Embassies in the world. He supervises a staff of over 1,000 from 26 agencies including: FBI, Commerce, Agriculture, USAID, Secret Service, CDC, Treasury, and State Department.

Ambassador Bost manages the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which has been successful in the provision of treatment for over 300,000 South Africans and Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission services for over 1.5 million South African women suffering from HIV/AIDS.

Since being appointed to South Africa, Ambassador Bost has initiated efforts to increase U.S. business interest in South Africa. As a result, U.S. exports increasing from $3.5 billion in 2005 to $4.6 billion in mid 2007. Ambassador Bost also coordinated the

successful U.S. – Africa Business Summit in partnership with the Corporate Council on Africa which brought over 850 business leaders to South Africa to discuss U.S. investment opportunities on the continent.

As FNCS Under Secretary, Ambassador Bost was responsible for the administration of the fifteen USDA nutrition assistance programs with a combined budget of over $58 billion, including the Food Stamp Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, and the Commodity Distribution Programs.

During his tenure at the Department of Agriculture, significant progress was made in helping needy families obtain a nutritious diet and combating obesity. Improving program access, promoting better eating and physical activity habits, and strengthening stewardship of taxpayer dollars were top priorities at FNCS under Ambassador Bost’s leadership.

Since his appointment in 2001, FNCS served more participants in the nutrition assistance programs: over 8.9 million more eligible people received food stamps; 2.3 million more low-income children ate a free or reduced price lunch; 1.8 million more children ate a school breakfast and more than 800,000 more women, infants and children participated in the WIC program.

Ensuring access to Food Stamps to all eligible individuals and families with dignity and respect while maintaining high standards of program integrity was reflective of his leadership for FNCS programs. In 2002, Ambassador Bost led USDA in reauthorization of the Food Stamp Program, securing a package that added $6.4 billion in new funding to nutrition assistance programs over a 10-year period and restored eligibility for legal immigrants. The Food Stamp Program achieved the highest-level payment accuracy in the history of the program while serving over 25 million people each month.

Ambassador Bost worked with Congress through the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 to improve these programs based on three principles of good stewardship: ensuring that all children have access to nutritious meals; establishing lifelong healthy habits in children; and ensuring high standards through implementation of a new Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, in eight states and three Indian Tribal Organizations to promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption among the Nation's school children.

He oversaw the development and release of the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans with the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the development and introduction of USDA's new food guidance system, MyPyramid.gov, MyPyramid for KIDS, and MiPiramide, the Spanish language version of MyPyramid.gov.

Ambassador Bost provided leadership and support to improve diets and food security around the world. Through collaborative efforts with the Foreign Agricultural Service, the Agency for International Development, the World Food Program, the Five-A-Day Program, and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, technical assistance and consultation are provided to promote improved nutrition and food security in South Africa, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, Brazil, Tanzania, Swaziland, Mozambique, Uganda, Madagascar, Chile, United Kingdom, Argentina, Mexico, Israel, Italy, China and Japan. At the invitation of the host countries, Under Secretary Bost delivered addresses to members of the Bundestag in Germany; Knesset in Israel; and within the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square in China, on the importance of healthy nutrition and food security.

Ambassador Bost has been actively involved with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations on efforts to improve nutrition and promote food security. He led United States delegations to the 2003 FAO Regional Conference for Africa and several FAO Committee on Food Security meetings. He also participated in the World Food Summit: Five Years Later.

A native of Concord, North Carolina, Ambassador Bost holds a B.A. degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.A. degree in Special Education from the University of South Florida.

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Released on December 28, 2007

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