Food aid has been used to promote economic development, but mostly it is used to alleviate food shortages. At any given time, weather related and human-made disasters (such as civil strife and post conflict repercussions) create a demand for food aid. Recent analysis suggests that needs outpace the availability of such aid. The United States dominates the international food aid system, providing more than half of all food assistance, and its actions have a major influence on other donors and the system as a whole. The 50th anniversary of the U.S. food aid program in 2004 is a timely point to appraise, offer a retrospective of past issues, and reexamine plans for the future. The purpose of this paper is to examine the evolution of the U.S. food aid program and to review the recipients of U.S. food aid. In addition, the criteria for allocating food aid are evaluated quantitatively. Cross-country regression analysis is performed looking at food aid as a function of several factors including the recipient countries' political situation, production shocks, trade balance, and income level. The preliminary results show that food aid distribution is based not only on U.S. political and trade interests but also on the recipient countries' economic conditions. The estimation results indicate growing consideration of the recipients' needs in U.S. food aid transfers over time.