The World Food Day sounds like a celebration of deliciousness, conjuring images of feasts from cultures all over the globe; however, Oct. 16 represents a day of concern for more than 850 million people who are suffering. More than 150 countries participated on this day of awareness for the world’s hungry and malnourished. The theme this year was The Right to Food, but even though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes the right to food, unfortunately not everyone has access to safe, nutritious food, or enough of it. During a speech at the World Food Day ceremony, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General Jacques Diouf asked, “If our planet produces enough food to feed its entire population, why do 854 million people still go to sleep on an empty stomach?”
Far from a feast, many individuals ate a poverty meal on Tuesday in an effort to raise hunger awareness. Acting on AIDS hosted such an event known as the Broken Bread Poverty Meal on Capitol Hill, which expressed the relation between hunger and HIV/AIDS. Many college campuses participated, as well as Senate leaders and other organizations, eating merely porridge.
This article highlights some of the other major events happening in the world in conjunction with World Food Day. Universities in Italy, Ireland and Iran are beginning to establish university courses on the right to food. In Rome, a Run-for-Food race will take place on Oct. 21. A global candlelight vigil will begin on Oct. 22 in Samoa and move across the world’s time zones. Forums and conferences have been scheduled in Austria, Finland and Sweden.
But is raising awareness about hunger the most effective method of solving this issue? After World Food Day and all the October events have come to a conclusion, there will still be young children with starving mouths and bloated stomachs. Nearly 5 million children under 5 years of age will die of nutrition-related causes this year, and it’s hard to imagine a solution in the near future. The FAO and other organizations are working for the hunger cause, though, and improvements have been made.
In this article, the international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders discusses a new ready-to-use food being used to treat malnourished children. An enriched flour or a mixture of corn and soy was commonly used in the past to enhance diets, but now a sweet spread made with peanuts, dry milk, sugar, vegetable fat, minerals and vitamins provides children with a higher calorie count and more nutrition. The substance does not have to be mixed with water, a vital ingredient to the former flour mixture, which many impoverished countries lack.
There is more being done to help those in need of food around the world, and in many cases, Christians are leading the charge. The Christian-based organization World Vision has posted this article about World Food Day and has listed several steps people can take to help the situation. Along with making a donation to the organization (or even sponsoring a child), World Vision has posted a petition calling for the reauthorization of the Global AIDS bill, information about hosting events at local churches to raise money and awareness and instructions on how to begin a new Acting on AIDS chapter at your university.
Another unique relief organization that offers people the chance to make a difference in the fight against poverty and hunger is the microfinance organization KIVA. At KIVA.org you can connect with an entrepreneur overseas and donate a small loan that will allow them to establish their own source of income and not only treat the symptoms of poverty, but potentially break the cycle of hunger.
In light of the opportunity presented by World Food Day, Christians must re-examine Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 25 that when we feed the hungry, we are rendering service to Christ. There are many unique ways for Christians to involve themselves in fulfilling the biblical command to help the oppressed.