Hunger has been a topic near to my heart for decades. Maybe it's because I love food so much. Maybe it's just because food is so basic that I can't imagine anyone being deprived of it. Maybe it's because it's disproportionately children who suffer the consequences of food shortages and malnutrition. The statistics horrify me as I imagine my own children enduring such a fate (and the world's children are my children).
As I have the privilege of worrying that my preschooler might be too picky an eater, or that I might have eaten one too many cookies last night, other families (such as those in East Africa) are facing famine and food shortages and spending all their energy on trying desperately to feed themselves and their vulnerable little ones — absolutely anything. In countries like mine where the situation is rarely quite so dire, an unacceptable 14.6% of U.S. households have fallen into the category of "food insecure" and spend days of each month hungry and potentially whole lifetimes undernourished.
There's no need for anyone to go hungry, and we can do something about it.
Take this short and eye-opening quiz for starters:
How bad is it?
About 925 million people experience hunger on a daily basis. That’s more than the population of North America and South America combined.
The poor spend up to 75 percent of their income on food. So for the 1.4 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day, that could mean about 90 cents a day for food, and less than 40 cents left for everything else. Contrast that to the United States, where an average family spends 10 percent of a paycheck on food.
Worldwide, 1 in 4 children don’t get the nutrition they need. Food prices rose from 2003-2007. In 2008, food prices soared by 57 percent, sparking a global food crisis. For us, rising food prices are a source of frustration. They may force us to eat out less often or rearrange other spending priorities. For children living in poverty, however, even a modest increase in food prices can have devastating consequences.
Faced with higher food prices, many children have been forced to eat cheaper and less nutritious food. Others may have to cut back on meals, or go days without food altogether. Worldwide, approximately 145 million children are underweight and at risk of dying — simply because they don’t get enough nutritious food.
A child dies from hunger-related causes every 15 seconds.
More than one-third of all child deaths are caused by hunger — one of the leading child killers in the world.
Every year, nearly 5 million hungry children die.
What can we do?If you're in the U.S., write your leaders with this simple email form — let them know the budget needs to prioritize helping the people who most need it. Devastating and disproportionate cuts have been proposed to the International Affairs Budget that literally threaten lives of the poor and vulnerable. There are few places in the U.S. federal budget where dollars translate so directly into lives saved.
Donate to a hunger-relief organization. My go-to charity is World Vision, because I love how they prioritize community building through child sponsorship. It's a great way to include your children in understanding a different culture — you'll get a window into another child's real life, through regular updates and letters, photos, gifts, and emails back and forth. You can sponsor a child or make a one-time donation here.
Let's end hunger, and let's do it quickly.
It's not too late to take part in Blog Action Day, October 16. If you want to post today about Food, follow these steps to spur on the conversation:
- Register your blog at http://bit.ly/registerBAD11.
- Tweet your post and use the #BAD11 hashtag and post on the Blog Action Day Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/blogactionday.
- Find content for your Blog Action Day post at www.blogactionday.org.
What's your biggest food worry right now? (Don't worry – I won't shame you; it can be small or big! Mine is that I've been reading Ellyn Satter and am trying to figure out how to transition us to a family who eats at an actual table for meals. Sigh.