October 16 marks the annual World Food Day. World Food Day was created to commemorate the 1945 founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO.
While World Food Day can certainly be a day to reflect upon the blessing of easy access to food in much of the developed world, its primary function is to promote knowledge and education of the problem of international hunger.
On a planet with a human population of 6.8 billion, the FAO estimates 925 million are suffering from chronic hunger. That’s a staggering 13 percent of the world population, or about one of every seven people globally.
Read on and take some time to learn more about what this statistic means, and how you can begin to make a difference this World Food Day.
What is hunger?
There are a few definitions of hunger, so it’s important to define exactly what’s meant when talking about world hunger. The familiar definition of hunger is the unpleasant craving for food or nourishment—the feeling you get when you’re waiting for the pizza delivery to arrive after a long day’s work.
A second kind of hunger is known as malnutrition. Malnutrition is a result of a community’s consistent, widespread lack of access to food—in this case, the global community’s lack of food access. This definition represents the hunger that World Food Day tries to combat.
The negative effects of hunger are many. Most notably, malnutrition means increased susceptibility to diseases as well as harsher symptoms of disease, due to a weakened immune system. The malnourished are fatigued, unable to concentrate and lack the energy to work.
Hunger’s impact is greatest on children. Since children are in a state of rapid physical and mental development, lack of proper nourishment means stunted growth and development.
Hunger is disabling and tends to lead to more hunger; a vicious hunger cycle.
What causes hunger?
Hunger is not fundamentally a result of our world lacking food. In fact, as our global population has increased, so has our food output. We actually produce enough food to be able to feed the world’s population.
The problem behind the problem of global hunger is poverty. The vast majority of the undernourished are in developing countries. Those stricken by poverty in these countries either don’t have the land to grow sufficient food, or the income to purchase enough food for them and their families.
In other words, while the global food supply is sufficient, food is not equally distributed. Citizens of developed nations possess comparative wealth, enabling an abundance of food. Poverty keeps families from being able to get food, and hunger stops them from being able to work—leading to greater hunger down the line.
In other words, the real fight against world hunger doesn’t mean producing more food, but enabling citizens to provide for themselves by reducing poverty, particularly in rural economies. Most hunger-fighting initiatives aim to create better jobs, promote greater access to education and improve rural agricultural practices.
What can I do?
There’s many ways you, as an individual, can help fight world hunger.
One way to help is to organize or participate in an existing World Food Day gathering. Search online to see if there’s an existing banquet happening on World Food Day.
Invite friends to World Food Day gatherings and spread the news about world hunger. Use your social media network to promote methods for the message about global hunger—know that spreading awareness is half of the battle.
Finally, once you’ve taken some more time to educate yourself on various organizations that are committed to alleviating world hunger, consider donating to the cause. You can donate the gift of your money, or volunteer and donate the gift of your time.
It’s amazing how much those in developed countries are blessed with, and how our limited resources can open up limitless possibilities for fighting world hunger. Participate in World Food Day and help bring others one of our basic essentials: Daily, nutritious food.