World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.
World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on October 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people.
Across the globe, grassroots events and public awareness campaigns engage diverse audiences in action against hunger. From hunger walks and World Food Day dinners to meal packaging events and food drives, there are many ways for people to be a part of solutions to hunger.
Each year, advocates come together to raise awareness and engage people in the movement to end hunger, introducing them to organizations, universities and companies that are working to achieve a zero hunger world.
Why care about hunger?
Because the right to food is a basic human right. In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger, according to the FAO’s “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014” report. The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.
60% of the hungry in the world are women, according to a UN Economic and Social Council study in 2007;
Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year, says the FAO in a 2012 report
4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished damaging their bodies and brains, per a July 2014 report on thousanddays.org.
Every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. The right to adequate food, says the FAO, is realized “when every man, woman and child has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.”
Because we can end hunger in our lifetime. It’s possible. The world produces enough food to feed every person on the planet. In September 2000, world leaders signed a commitment to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. MDG #1 is eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and includes three targets. Since then:
Forty countries have already achieved the first target, to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015, says the FAO in another 2014 report.In addition, over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, which means about 17,000 children are saved every day, the UN MDG report says.
Extreme poverty rates have also been cut in half since 1990, the UN adds.
The challenge is significant, but these results show us that when we focus our attention, we can make big strides.
Because the cost of neglect is too high. No one in the world should have to experience hunger. In addition to the cost of human suffering, the world as a whole loses when people do not have enough to eat.
Hungry people have learning difficulties, are less productive at work, are sick more often and live shorter lives. The cost to the global economy because of malnutrition is the equivalent of US$3.5 trillion a year, according to the FAO’s “The State of Food and Agriculture 2013” report.
Hunger leads to increased levels of global insecurity and environmental degradation. Ending hunger is not just a moral imperative, but also a good investment for society.
Because it can happen to anyone. Even in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, one in seven Americans — 14.3 percent — does not have enough to eat, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Household Food Security report in 2014. Nutritious food can be expensive, making a balanced diet a luxury for many. Loss of a job, a family tragedy, poor health, or an accident can make anyone anywhere go hungry in a moment.
Globally, extreme climate events, war, or even financial crisis can dramatically affect a person’s ability to feed themselves and their families. Without social safety nets, resiliency measures and good policy in place, these small and large events can set off a cycle of hunger and poverty.
(Editor’s Note: This article, with minor adjustments and corrections, is taken from the website http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/what-is-wfd)