The Food Basket- The key components of the WFP food basket are: a staple such as wheat flour or rice; lentils, chickpeas or other pulses; vegetable oil (fortified with vitamin A and D); sugar; and iodised salt. Often these are complemented with fortified foods, such as Corn Soya Blend. Copyright: WFP/Rein Skullerud
Today, October 16, is World Food day. According to the World Food Programme, (the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide), more than 925 million people-or about one in seven people alive today – are still going hungry every day. Hunger kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. A child dies every six seconds from hunger.
When food is scarce, women and children suffer the most. I was shocked to read that more than ten million children in Nigeria are physically and intellectually stunted as a result of malnutrition.
We know that climate change is going to lead to severe droughts, floods, and poor harvests, all of which means a food crisis is imminent. High food prices mean the poor will have less to eat, and very little of it will be nutritious, but sadly it’s often bureaucracy and corruption that are keeping subsidized grains rotting in warehouses.
Today in Rome the UN’s Food and Agriculture Office named Italian actor Raoul Bova, Canadian singer Celine Dion, Filipino singer Lea Salonga, and U.S. actress Susan Sarandon as Goodwill Ambassadors in the fight against global hunger.
If you wanted to rush out to help the people in Haiti, or the flood victims in Pakistan, look first at the WFP video So You Want To Be An Aid Worker? You have to be able to confront all challenges, like go where’s there’s no toilet, have a “cast-iron” stomach, drive where there are no roads, no maps, and hang-out in some of the world’s most dangerous places.
Meals in Pakistan are cooked on “three-stone stoves” like this one. Copyright: WFP/Natasha Scripture
Don’t forget that malnourished people also live in the developed world. There are food banks on six continents.
Poverty and hardship are rising in the United States causing a surge in first time visitors to food banks nationwide. One in eight Americans — 37 million — received emergency food help last year, up 46% from 2005, the largest hunger-relief group reported in February 2010.
Children are hit particularly hard, according to a report by Feeding America, a network of 203 food banks nationwide. One in five children, 14 million, received food from soup kitchens, and food pantries.
The Agriculture Department reported in 2009 that 14.6% of households didn’t have enough food at some time in 2008
“This is a crisis,” says Vicki Escarra, president of Feeding America. “People need to understand that this is America, and we’re seeing this kind of need.”
So what can we do? When you tell your children to “eat everything on your plate, because so many children are starving!” as my parents told me, it’s teaching your child not to waste food which is very important, but it’s not helping feed the hungry. A child is still dying every six seconds from hunger.
World Food Programme suggests ten simple things we all can do. (I’ve just listed them. Go to their website for more information on each one.)
- 1. Play the new FreeRice game
- 2. Tweet hunger facts to friends
- 3. Put a photo on the ‘Wall’
- 4. Play Food Force
- 5. Go ‘On the road’ with WFP
- 6. Make a meal with a dollar
- 7. Become a WFP Facebook fan
- 8. Show your support for the women of the world
- 9. Tell a teacher about wfp.org
- 10. Learn about nutrition in 2 minutes
I think volunteering at a food bank, and a donation to the World Food Programme are both good places to start. Just one dollar fills four kids cups with a nutritious meal.
I hope so. I really do.