Friday, October 16 is World Food Day

Even in one of the richest countries in the world, one in seven people do not have enough to eat

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Oct. 16, 1945 in Quebec. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people.

In North America, grassroots events and public awareness campaigns engage diverse audiences in action against hunger. From hunger walks and World Food Day dinners to meal-packaging events and food drives, there are many ways for people to be a part of solutions to hunger.

Each year, advocates come together to raise awareness and engage Americans and Canadians in the movement to end hunger. Led by the FAO Liaison Office for North America, the World Food Day USA & Canada Network includes over 60 organizations, universities and companies that are working to achieve a zero hunger world.

Why care about hunger? Because the right to food is a basic human right. In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger. The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.

  • Sixty per cent of the hungry in the world are women.
  • Almost five million children under the age of five die of malnutrition-related causes every year.
  • Four in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished, damaging their bodies and brains. Every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.

We can end hunger in our lifetime. The world produces enough food to feed every person on the planet. In September 2000, world leaders signed a commitment to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. MDG No. 1 is eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and includes three targets. Since then:

  • Forty countries have already achieved the first target, to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015.
  • In addition, over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, which means about 17,000 children are saved every day.
  • Extreme poverty rates have also been cut in half since 1990.

The challenge is significant, but these results show us that when we focus our attention, we can make big strides.

The cost of neglect is too high. No one in the world should have to experience hunger. In addition to the cost of human suffering, the world as a whole loses when people do not have enough to eat. Hungry people have learning difficulties, are less productive at work, are sick more often and live shorter lives. The cost to the global economy because of malnutrition is the equivalent of US$3.5 trillion a year. Hunger leads to increased levels of global insecurity and environmental degradation. Ending hunger is not just a moral imperative, but also a good investment for society.

Even in the U.S., one of the richest countries in the world, one in seven Americans does not have enough to eat. Nutritious food can be expensive, making a balanced diet a luxury for many. Loss of a job, a family tragedy, poor health, or an accident can make anyone, anywhere, go hungry in a moment.

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