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World Food Day: A Solemn Reminder to Act



The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has some ponderous statistics at its disposal: One out of every four children in the world under the age of five is stunted due to malnutrition; this means 165 million children will never reach their full physical and cognitive potential due to a lack of food in their early years. Here is another fact from FAO’s trove of information: About two billion people in the world lack the vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.


October 16 marks World Food Day 2013, and this year FAO has chosen to focus on “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.” The organization acknowledges that wiping out malnutrition worldwide is “a daunting challenge,” but maintains that a relatively small investment can go a very long way.


According to FAO, “If the global community invested US$1.2 billion per year for five years on reducing micronutrient deficiencies… the results would be better health, fewer child deaths and increased future earnings. It would generate annual gains worth UD$15.3 billion—a benefit to cost ratio of almost 13 to one.”


Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University concurs that it is not a lack of resources but, rather, a lack of political will that allows world hunger to continue. The Earth Institute also holds that malnutrition requires systemic solutions, noting that, “Balanced diets, reliable food sources, clean drinking water, stable agricultural systems and plant pollinators all contribute to the stability and well-being of a populace’s nutritional health.”


Participate in World Food Day


There are many organizations that can benefit from your support in the fight against world hunger. The Earth Institute uses donations to support cross-disciplinary efforts spanning science, education and public policy. Bread for the World and the Millennium Institute also advocate for ending world hunger. The U.S. government’s Feed the Future initiative provides technical assistance and direct resources to communities worldwide experiencing malnutrition.