If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
-James 2:15-17, New American Bible
Globally, 4.3 pounds of food are produced daily for every woman, man, and child on Earth--enough to make all of us fat. Yet every year, six million children across the globe die as a result of hunger and malnutrition--one every five seconds. For the year 2003, Action Against Hunger estimated that 853 million people in the world do not have enough to eat--more than the total population of Japan, Europe, Canada, and the US combined. Hunger and Malnutrition are responsible for more deaths in the world than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
In the developing nations, isolated North American communities, and populations like the urban homeless and rural elderly, hunger may appear severe. However, in most regions the major food-related problems are poverty and chronic “undernutrition.” Poor nutrition has a harmful effect on physical and mental development, learning and productivity, physical, and psychological health, and on family and community life.
Women are often more vulnerable to nutritional problems because of their lower economic and social status as well as their physiological needs. Younger women bear and feed children with their bodies, and at the same time are often expected to work more than men. Women who outlive their economic productivity are sometimes isolated and given little support from the community.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the human right to food, to secure personal health and well-being (Article 25). The United Nations member states have agreed to achieve eight international development “Millennium Goals” by the year 2015. The first Millennium Goal calls for major reductions in poverty and hunger.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED RESOURCE
Bread for the World. A faith organization that works through lobbying for legislation to end worldwide hunger. It encourages congregations to have letter-writing campaigns to Congress to pass pertinent legislation.
“Well-Fed World.” United Nations Global Warming Report. Discusses the United Nation FAO report on global warming and how it contributes to hunger in our world.
Sachs, Jeffrey. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time, Penguin Books, NY, 2005. Sachs argues that extreme poverty—defined by the World Bank as incomes of less than U.S. $1 per day—can be eliminated globally by the year 2025, through carefully planned development aid including agricultural aid, microcredit, etc. While Sachs has a “checkered” past in his promotion of economic policies (see Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine) he has taken the lead in arguing with heads of state forthe UN’s Millennial Development Goals which do much to eliminate global hunger. With the global financial situation it remains to be seen if pledging nations will ante up.
RECOMMENDED SUPPORTING RESOURCES
- Global Issues. “Solving World Hunger Means Solving World Poverty.” June 15, 2002. Discussion of the related issues of poverty and hunger and recommendations to address them. Emphasis on food as a human right, colonialism, and corporate agriculture.
- Global Issues. “The World Food Summit: What Went Wrong.” June 2002. The 2002 Summit [World Food Summit: Fives Years Later] was called by the United Nations to examine why hunger persisted despite the 1996 Plan of Action. Progress has lagged by at least 60% behind the goals for the first five years, and today conditions are worsening in much of the world. This web page relates hunger to poverty, explains food as a human right, and discusses the links between hunger and poverty.
- The Hunger Project, In 13 countries, The Hunger Project works to support the developing world’s rural women and men to take self-reliant actions to ensure their own food security, and to have voice in government, so that food insecurity can be made a thing of the past.
- Environmental Defense Fund. “Food Prices and Feeding the Hungry.” You Tube presentation on by Ken Cook, on food policy for vulnerable people, public health, sensible agricultural policies.
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). ELCA World Hunger. World Hunger is a comprehensive and sustainable program that uses multiple strategies—relief, development, education, and advocacy—to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.
- Well Fed World, “Hunger: Scarcity vs. Distribution" Discusses why scarcity is a critical issue for global food security, how scarcity is intensified by animal agriculture, and the ways in which scarcity and distribution are connected.
- Share the World’s Resources. Share The World’s Resources is an international non-profit dedicated to sustainable economics. Of particular interest is the section on food security and agriculture.
- “Ending Africa’s Hunger” Patel, Raj, Holt-Gimenez, Eric, Shattuck, Annie. The Nation. September 2, 2009.
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