The 1930s and 1940s saw the rise of a new model of global food politics. This model was strongly moulded by the experiences of the Great Depression and the two world wars, all of which had brought hunger and malnutrition back to Europe. Whereas until the nineteenth century famines and food shortages had commonly been interpreted as regional Malthusian crises, they were now attributed to global economic disturbances and imbalances. This article explores how the far-reaching plans of a World Food Board, advocated by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization under John Boyd Orr, were abandoned and supplanted by a new approach that focused on technical aid and the distribution of surpluses. Moreover, the problems of hunger and malnutrition were embedded in a larger discourse on world population and economic development.