World Hunger Tops 1 Billion People - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

World Hunger Tops 1 Billion People

World Hunger Tops 1 Billion People

Every day more than a billion people go hungry according to a report put out by the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in June 2009. This means that almost one sixth of humanity is currently suffering from hunger. The problem has dramatically increased recently due to the global financial meltdown that has resulted in lower incomes, increased unemployment, and higher food prices.

Somewhere in the world, a child dies of hunger every five seconds — 17,000 kids a day — even though the planet has more than enough food for all of us.

As donor governments reduce their support, food aid organizations are facing a major funding shortfall. Consequently, for the first time, the World Food Programme (WFP), the food assistance branch of the U.N., is appealing directly to individuals to give small donations to help alleviate the problem.

They are asking a billion people to donate $1.50 a week which would be enough to end hunger for a billion people in the developing world. The Billion for a Billion campaign, aimed especially at the billion internet users in the world, is based on the idea that many people doing a little can shift mountains -- or, in this case, help eradicate hunger. You can donate here.

While progress was made in reducing chronic hunger in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s, hunger has been steadily on the rise for the past decade, the FAO said. The number of hungry people increased between 1995-97 and 2004-06 in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean.

But even in these regions, gains in hunger reduction have been reversed as a result of high food prices and the current global economic downturn. The FAO projects the number of hungry people is expected to grow overall by about 11 percent this year.

U.S. Hunger Levels Highest in 14 Years

Food insecurity is not having consistent, dependable access to enough food for active, healthy living. According to a report just released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Nov 2009), 49 million Americans are food insecure, the largest number since the government began keeping track of this statistic.

Worse still, nearly 17 million children — one in every five — live in households without enough food, up from 12 million in the preceding year. Included in that number are the 1.1 million children who, at times, are outright hungry without anywhere to turn for nutrition.

Here in the wealthiest nation in the world, hunger continues to be a growing problem. While the poor economy has certainly played a role, hunger in America is not simply the result of not enough jobs to go around. The report reveals that most families struggling to get enough food have at least one adult working in a full time job. This would suggest that insufficient wages are every bit as much to blame as a shortage of jobs.

Among those most seriously affected are households where mothers are raising children alone where more than one in three single mothers reported struggling to feed their family while one in seven claim that, at some point during the year, someone in the home had gone hungry. In other words, not just not having enough food of sufficient quality — but having no food at all.

A separate report released by Feeding America in September 2009, "Food Insecurity in Households with Children", showed that in 2007, 15.8 percent of households with children were food insecure at some time during the year. In about half of those households, only adults were food insecure, but in 8.3 percent of the households, one or more of the children experienced the most severe food-insecure conditions measured by USDA, very low food security, in which meals were irregular and food intake was below levels considered adequate by caregivers. And this issue doesn't just affect those who are suffering from hunger, it's a problem for all of us in this country since:

  • People who don't get enough to eat are less able to work
  • Children who are hungry don't develop to their full potential
  • People with poor nutrition impact our health care system
  • Senior citizens with low incomes suffer diminished quality of life
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