Food For Hunger
Last year it was water. This year it is food. I’m wondering if next year will be air? Are we covering the fundamental elements for survival? Regardless, today thousands of bloggers (those people who have so much to say for so few to read) are coming together for Blog Action Day 2011. It is also World Food Day. I am pretty sure they’ve already connected these special days together, though I was tempted to call them both up and say “Hey guess what! You just happened to choose the same topic on the same day! How weird is that?!” That probably would have been an awkward phone call. So, food is a good thing. In fact, it is a subject that is very dear to my heart. I eat it. I like it. I get fat from it. Ah- the sweet joys of sweets! Like ice cream and pies. And chicken. I really like chicken. But that is because I am from California. They eat a lot of chicken in California.
But this subject is also dear to me because I know lots of people don’t have food. Recently I did a post called Hunger Sucks: Understanding the Importance of Food in Developing Nations because I don’t think its totally easy to get the concept of why we need food. Oh yes, we all know that we want food, that we don’t like being hungry, and and that people starve because they don’t have food. But its hard to grasp how food (or the lack thereof) actually affects more than the hungry people’s bellies. And its even harder to comprehend that food is not accessible to ridiculously large amount of people. Although there is plenty of it in our world, people still starve.
Who are the Hungry?
Who are the hungry? Well, sometimes, they are my own family. Oddly, every day this week I’ve felt hungry at bedtime. Or I’ll wake up in the middle of the night so hungry I can’t sleep. And I swear, I’m not pregnant! Regardless, I’m just so lazy (or so scared of the dark) that I don’t walk down the stairs to get some food. Instead I drink water in hopes to drown out the pain until I can deal with it properly. With breakfast. Also, my husband and son are notoriously grumpy when they don’t have enough food in their bodies. We call it the food coma. If they don’t get food within the right window of time their bodies shut down, decision making is impaired, and their cranky-o-meters are in the red. Actually, come to think of it, this sorta describes all men! But we are still pathetic examples.
So you see, if we average Americans get grumpy or want to soothe our hunger pains after not eating for a few hours, it seems logical to assume that no one ever wants to be without food and nutrition. I might be too sleepy in the middle of the night to walk down the stairs to grub-up, but by morning, you will find me in the kitchen. At some point our survival mechanism kicks in and we do something to fill the tank up. Do we really think the hungry are not selling their souls to survive?
When it is not uncommon in our world for parents to allow their children to go with someone risky, outright sell their children, or sacrifice the too-weak child in a journey to find some hope for the rest? It is sad that their situation is so dire that these become the better options. Many victims of trafficking, women in brothels, boys in gangs, families in the worst of refugee camps are there because of this one word: food. It is so easy to ignore our hungry neighbors. And its even easier to be indifferent when we just assume the hungry are not smart enough, strong enough, believing enough, trying hard enough. They are to blame. Although the fault is often not theirs. And even if it is, should our love be based on if we judge them worthy enough to receive it? Because none of us are worthy enough.
We can End Hunger
What if we considered the 925 million individuals who do not have enough nutrition (about 1/7th of all humanity) as beautiful and determined? If we thought of them as our family, our parents, our neighbors? What if we considered the 16,000 children who die daily from hunger as our own children? Don’t tell me it is their fault. If it is anyone’s fault, it is ours because we choose to believe they don’t exist. What would happen if we said the 170 people who slip into desperate poverty every minute are actually valuable?
I can tell you what would happen. Extreme poverty- the type in which people die senselessly just because they are too poor- would be eradicated. Gone. Snuffed out.
Why do I know this? Because it isn’t actually that hard to fix. In fact, it is already so much better than it was! Extreme poverty has dropped from 52% to 26% within this last 24 years! Look at this article some guy wrote, doing the math for us so we can see how easily governments could knock out poverty. According to the renown Jeffrey Sachs, who is totally saturated in global economics advocating to end poverty, we would need about $175 billion extra a year (wisely invested) to end extreme poverty. This is equivalent to around 1/4th of the 2011 U.S. defense budget. Mind you, I like being kept safe from harm. But Americans, just the average committed type, can actually do this without our government’s money. Because in 2009 we spent this amount on apparel. We also spent about this amount on servicing our cars. We spent over 2x this amount on eating out! In just one year! And as I like food, I do this a whole lot!
Actions to Stop Hunger
World Food Day is actually sponsored by Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. They link with 1billionhungry.org to petition political leaders to recognize their influence globally. Note: for those of you who are not fans of big intervening governments, remember that all NGOs (non-government Organizations) and non-profits work with and within the bounds of legality. The more governments are behind eradicating hunger, the easier it is for it to be done. And for those of you who don’t like spam, when I signed this petition months ago I have since only received one email, acknowledging I signed this petition. So sign it!
This petition is part of a movement found at www.endinghunger.org. They actually have a lot of cool ideas on ways you can be active to end hunger if you check out that link. Or Make Poverty History has been a leader in this too! Check out their ideas on how to take action as well.
Then as we have a lot in comparison to poor nations, donating money to halt hunger should be something relatively easy for us to do. Typically, its not, though. Mainly because we don’t have enough margin financially to give to those who are starving. But I urge you to make this a priority. If you give already (I know lots of Christians pride themselves in giving 10% to their churches, for example), create some margin in your life to give 1-3% extra of your monthly budget to help end the type of extreme poverty which causes hunger. Or make it a plan to fast one day a month, or go out to eat one time less a week, giving the amount you save, instead.
Food for the Hungry and Convoy of Hope are great organizations to donate to for food relief and development. ECHO is another organization extremely skilled in sustainable development, providing long term solutions so we won’t have to donate emergency aid anymore! These are just a small splattering of the organizations which you can give money to which will also not misuse your donations as they all have great financial accountability systems set up!
Lastly, please educate yourself. You don’t have to be a nerd, but don’t just be content with checking something off your list- your yearly good deed for the hungry. Research why there is such an extreme famine going on right now in East Africa. Watch this short video below, explaining hunger and the food issue. Then make it real by telling someone else about it. Use your own blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, etc… to let people know all about food!
58:Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty. (2011). Food Security and Agriculture. Retrieved October 16, 2011 from http://www.live58.org/solutions/food-security-agriculture/
58:Fast. Forward. The End of Poverty. (2011). FAQ. Retrieved October 16, 2011 from: http://www.live58.org/about/faq/
FAO of the United Nations. (2011). World Food Day. Retrieved October 16, 2011 from: http://www.fao.org/getinvolved/worldfoodday/en/
Harack, Ben. (August 2011). Vision of Earth. How Much Would it Cost to End Extreme Poverty in the World. Retrieved October 16, 2011 from: http://www.visionofearth.org/economics/ending-poverty/how-much-would-it-cost-to-end-extreme-poverty-in-the-world/
Results: Canada. (June 2007). Ending Global Poverty: Challenging Canada’s Ultra Rich. Retrieved October 16, 2011 from: http://www.results-resultats.ca/TakeAction/MonthlyAction_eng.asp?ID=100239
Walletpop Staff (December 2010). Daily Finance. Forbes: How Americans Spend Their Money. Retrieved October 16, 2011 from: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/12/13/forbes-how-americans-spend-their-money/