The official WorkerAnts’ Colony
World Food Day -Ways to Help End Hunger
WorkerAnts is getting ready to celebrate World Food Day on October 16, 2014. As this year’s World Food Day theme is Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth, we have been focusing on raising awareness for non-profits that emphasize urban agriculture, smallholder farming, and feeding communities through shared community farms. We have written and shared about some amazing organizations from around the world that are dedicated to these topics, however, since the overall goal of World Food Day is to end hunger and malnutrition, it is worth spending some time exploring other ways to help reach this goal.
Let’s explore the problem first. The worldwide hunger statistics extremely disturbing:
• 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger.
• 60% of the hungry in the world are women.
• Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.
In fact, no matter where you live you cannot complacently put hunger aside as happening “elsewhere”, as in places where there is well-known poverty or war or conflict. Every county is affected by hunger and malnutrition. Check out the Food and Agriculture Organization’ Hunger Map to find your country’s incidence of malnutrition by population percent. While the numbers are smaller for many places, less than 5% of the population is malnourished in some countries, the message is clear: There are people going hungry in your backyard.
If your backyard happens to be in Canada, Great Britain and the United States, countries that do not usually bring to mind people going hungry, you may be surprised by the following facts:
• In 2013, 49.1 million people, including 33.3 million adults and 15.8 million children , in the United States did not have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food (i.e., were food insecure).
• The rise of food poverty in Britain is so striking that the 2014 Trussel Trust report noted a 163% increase over the prior year period in 3 day emergency meals provided to people. They also note that more than 500,000 children in the UK live with families “who are unable to provide a minimally acceptable diet.”
• 4 million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, lived in households that struggled to afford necessary food in 2012, according the Report on Household Food Insecurity in Canada, 2012
After reading these numbers it is not surprising that many people feel overwhelmed by the problem of hunger and malnutrition. Each one of us can help, and perhaps the best way to help is to start breaking the stereotypes of how we help fight hunger.
When you think of “fighting hunger” what usually comes to mind is donating money to a cause that provides direct food support, volunteering time at a local soup kitchen, or donating food to a food bank or similar program. All of these are amazing ways to help, but they are not the only ways to help. There are many other avenues to battle hunger, in particular the causes of hunger, and some of the following may be more interesting and viable methods for you.
• Teach: If you are a teacher, you can integrate lesson plans and interactive tools provided by the World Food Programme into your curriculum. This is a great way to introduce people to hunger issues and some solutions. Find out more here:http://www.wfp.org/students-and-teachers/teachers/blog/blog/simple-tools-help-teachers-introduce-students-hunger-issues
• Share: Social Networking has changed all our lives, so let’s use it to help save lives too. Most international and national organizations, like The GlobalFoodBankingNetwork, Feeding America, the Trussell Trust, Food Banks Canada, and FoodBank Australia have Twitter pages that you can follow and pre-drafted tweets to share. Also, many charities are on social networking platforms (such as Instagram, Flickr, Tumblr, Youtube, WorkerAnts) and are looking for people to spread the word about them. You can go a step farther with WorkerAnts.com’s global database of non-profits. There you can you share your favorite charities with others and you can write reviews for charities you have volunteered with or just support.
• Think Outside the Box: The problem of hunger has many causes and, therefore, many ways for you to help. Urbanization, climate changes, livestock issues and biodiversity are just a few of the areas that contribute to finding solutions to hunger and malnutrition. With such a broad selection of issues to choose from you can look for ways to use your passions to help others.
Like to garden? Volunteer at a local community farm or join a heritage seed community and support biodiversity in your backyard. Are you a foodie? Support local farm to table organizations or just shop at your local farmers market. Are you an architect? Connect with the global community of sustainable architects and see what environmentally friendly methods can be integrated into your work. By focusing on the causes of hunger and malnutrition we can make sure everyone has access to nutritious meals.
• Fundraise: There are so many ways to fundraise. Be creative about it. Do you like to cycle or do you just like a challenge? The Hunger Project United Kingdom has a page full of fun ways to get involved on their website and, for those of us not living in the UK, you can take the ideas home to your local charities. For more food for thought, read our previous article on How to Have Fun While Fundraising below.
• Advocate: Laws and politics are fundamental means to ending hunger and malnutrition. If you love advocacy then advocate to your government officials about solutions to end poverty, help school food programs, or encourage the creation of community and urban farm projects. Depending on what country you live in the policies, issues and party names will be different, but for a good overview of global issues see the website for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
• Play: Play ‘Free Rice’ at freerice.com, a game that donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme for every correct answer you give. To date, they have donated over 101 billion grains of rice. That is a lot of rice.
Regardless of how you help fight hunger, the key is that you do. Sometimes just telling others about the problem can be part of the solution, other times you just need to get out there and do something.
In an effort to take our own advice, members of the WorkerAnts team will be volunteering at the 2014 Campaign to End Hunger – House of Mercy in Manassas, Virginia on October 18, 2014. The House of Mercy is dedicated to serving the poor, marginalized and forgotten by providing food and on October 18th they are making an effort to package 150,000 meals to feed the hungry in Appalachia and Honduras. We are really excited about participating in this event and will be Tweeting live on that day – so follow us and get involved in the conversation!