October 16th is World Food Day, a worldwide event designed to help alleviate hunger by raising awareness. It is held on October 16th to commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. Events are organized in over 150 countries across the world to promote worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger and for the need to ensure food security and nutritious diets for all. It is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to achieve #ZeroHunger by 2030.
SEVEN FACTS ABOUT WORLD HUNGER FROM THE UN:
The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet, 815 million people suffer from hunger. That is one in nine people. 60% of them are women.
- One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
- About 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture.
- No other sector is more sensitive to climate change than agriculture.
- Around 45% of infant deaths are related to malnutrition.
- The cost of malnutrition to the global economy is the equivalent of USD 3.5 trillion a year.
- Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.
FACTS ABOUT HUNGER IN THE US:
- 1 in 6 people in America is hungry.
- 49 million Americans struggle to put food on the table.
- Food insecurity exists in every county in America. In 2013, 17.5 million households were food insecure. More and more people are relying on food banks and pantries.
- In the US, hunger isn’t caused by a lack of food, but rather the continued prevalence of poverty.
- More than 1 in 5 children is at risk of hunger. Among African-Americans and Latinos, it’s 1 in 3.
- Over 20 million children receive free or reduced-price lunch each school day. Less than half of them get breakfast, and only 10% have access to summer meal sites.
- 1 in 7 people is enrolled in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Nearly half of them are children.
- 40% of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans.
SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO
A recent report, “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture & Food,” presents a holistic framework that looks at the true costs and benefits of food production and consumption. According to Dr. Harpinder Sandhu, who helped to develop and write the report,
“The current economic systems do not include or reward the value of social, human, and natural capital in agriculture and food systems. This often leads to the promotion of practices that are harmful to farming, the environment, and people,”
The Chef’s Manifesto is a UN initiative that brings together chefs from all over the world to create a better food system in order to end hunger. Their Action Plan, designed as a practical guide, details simple actions that chefs can take in their kitchens, classrooms and communities to deliver a better food system for all.
Here are 11 things that can help alleviate hunger:
- Hold a Food Drive or donate to a local food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen.
- Advocate for SNAP, WIC and public school breakfast and lunch programs.
- Volunteer at your local food bank, food pantry or soup kitchen.
- Support grassroots solutions like community gardens, food coops, farmer’s markets and programs like Farm to Table, Farm to School, Cooking with Kids, and the Food Tank.
- Watch A Place at the Table.
- Read The American Way of Eating:Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Files and the Dinner Table
- Support efforts to increase the minimum wage to a living wage
- Support organizations working for fair wages and better working condition for food workers: Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Food Chain Workers Alliance.
- Support immigration reform that grants immigrants access to government benefits as well as career and education opportunities.
- Speak up when you hear someone spreading stereotypes or misinformation about poverty and hunger.
- If you, or someone you know, needs help finding food, call the WhyHunger National Hunger Hotline. You can call 1-800-5-HUNGRY, or text your zip code to 1-800-548-6479 or use the form on the website to locate a local emergency food provider and other support services.
Host a Sunday Dinner and talk about hunger. Here are some questions you could talk about:
- Where does your food come from?
- How is the global food system connected?
- How can you support a local farmer?
Get together and talk with others about how to help alleviate hunger in your area. Do you have enough food banks in your area? Are there food trucks delivering food to rural residents. Where are the food deserts?
Review your own diet to see if you could eat more local food or more food in season. Learn about the Slow Food Movement. Find out where your local farmer’s markets are. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture. Grow a garden. Give thanks every time you sit down to a meal.
About Peggy O’Mara. I am an independent journalist who edits and publishes peggyomara.com. I was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years and founded Mothering.com in 1995. My books include Having a Baby Naturally, Natural Family Living, The Way Back Home and A Quiet Place. I have conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. I am the mother of four and grandmother of three. Please check out my email newsletter with free tips on parenting, activism, and healthy living.