There are many kinds of hunger, of course. I'm looking now at physical hunger. There are way too many malnourished children in the world, even in America. Some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That's about one in nine people on earth.(1) There is just no excuse for this. There is enough food in the world to feel everyone. The problem is that it doesn't get to where it is needed.
The reasons are various. Sometimes food does not get to places where war and violence keep it away. There are forces that use siege as part of their aggression, even though siege is condemned by the world and considered an international crime. The idea of siege is to cut off all supplies, including food and water, to the enemy camp. The problem is that that often includes towns and villages that house civilians, non-combatants, children, the elderly. People, especially children, starve to death. This is inhumane.
What can we do about this? There doesn't appear to be a lot we can do as individuals. However, as individuals we can make our voices heard. Nations and organizations with influence like the UN, can exert pressure to have humanitarian aid allowed in. We need to speak up loud and clear to let them know we want the issue confronted. In the past, air drops of food have been used, as in Berlin, Germany, when it was cut off from the west. Why couldn't we use drones for that? And, of course, bringing an end to war eliminates siege. We'll look at that solution another time.
Hunger also occurs in areas of drought in countries with no infrastructure to distribute food. Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, is the region with the highest prevalence (percentage of population) of hunger. One person in four there is undernourished.(1) Here, again, the ones most harmed are the children and elderly. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.(1)
It is the responsibility of the countries with food enough to get nourishment to these places. Organizations like Save the Children, World Food Programme , Project Hope, and others work to get food and clean water to those who need it.
Here is a way any of us can help - by supporting responsible organizations monetarily and/or by volunteering. Here is a list of charitable organizations (NGOs) that primarily target world hunger: Action Against Hunger; Bread for the World; Convoy of Hope; Freedom from Hunger; Food for the Hungry; Food for the Poor; Heifer Project InternationalThe Hunger Project; Stop Hunger Now; WhyHunger; World Food Programme.(2) And remember, even a small gift can made a difference. Or organize a fund-raiser for your cause.
For help in evaluating world hunger organizations, see: Charity Navigator – America’s largest independent charity evaluator. CharityWatch – a charity rating and evaluation service dedicated to helping donors make informed giving decisions. Philanthropedia – finding the top non-profit organizations. Find an organization you believe in and support them however you can. (2)
What about hunger in America? What can you do about hunger in your own state or city or town? As one of the richest countries in the world, where obesity is a primary health concern, you wouldn't think hunger would be a problem at all. However, food insecurity exists in every county in the U.S., ranging from a low of 4 percent in Slope County, ND to a high of 33 percent in Humphreys County, MS. (3)
This is appalling. How does this exist? With the rise in poverty, unemployment, under-employment, more and more families just cannot make their income stretch to cover the basics. Addressing these issues are a long term solution and a critical one. We must demand that our government strengthen the economy, increase minimum wage, and educate workers for the new jobs in sustainable energy and in the communication and information industry. We each have a vote and are responsible for electing officials who will work for the good of the people. One thing you can do about hunger - vote!
More immediate solutions lie in supplying food to those who need it wherever they are, rural or metropolitan areas. Food banks and community gardens are making a sizable difference in the lives of many. Here is where you can become personally involved. Check to see where the food bank and food pantries are in your area. You can go on-line to http://www.findfoodbank.com to discover the locations in your area. Check out ways you can help them get food to those who need it.
You can volunteer to staff the food pantry for a day, or more than a day, stocking shelves, helping clients choose food, packing bags with food choices. You can work on fund-raisers to help buy food for their shelves. You can donate money or non-perishables directly. Most will supply a list of what items they most need.
If you raise vegetables at home, share the harvests with a food pantry. Or participate in a community garden to raise fresh produce for families who have little access to healthy fresh foods.
You can have a food drive. Invite friends and family to donate items or to help you go door to door collecting donations. My favorite way to do it is to have an event and ask people to bring a donation. We asked for food pantry donations for our wedding instead of gifts and we collected a car trunk full of food and $1400! It was enough to stock the neighborhood pantry for a month! In the past we have had birthday parties where we've asked guests to bring certain kinds of donations rather than gifts. Sometimes we collect canned goods, sometimes paper products.
What are some more ways you or I, either individually or with a group, could raise money for fighting hunger?
Remember, the important thing is that you do SOMETHING. Large or small, every effort will make life better for someone.
Now, tell me what you have done or could do to reduce the problem of hunger. Make your suggestions and ideas in the comments below. We are making a list! We are changing the world!