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From the CEO's Desk: The State of Global Hunger on World Food Day

Barry Mattson
By Barry Mattson on October 15, 2020

Throughout this week every year, participants in over 150 countries celebrate and advocate for food security on World Food Day. One of the most important global holidays each year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations refreshed the theme for this year: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.” While every year is challenging for those living in hunger and poverty, the tragedies of 2020 made this year the most important for the hunger crisis in recent history. At the beginning of the year, 820 million people worldwide were affected by hunger. That’s 1 in 9 people. The United Nations estimates that COVID-19 will double the number of people facing acute hunger worldwide. Now is the time to drive action and attention toward both food security and nutrition security.

With mass restrictions on movement and the shutting down of both formal and informal economies in countries around the world, existing economic hardships on families escalated. Travel restrictions stopped food supply chains from flowing to “last mile communities.” Isolated communities and limited access to open trade caused hardships and lost livelihoods. Closed shops and restaurants, lost tourism revenue and empty streets also caused informal sellers to lose their income streams.

Economic shutdowns have extreme effects on those experiencing hunger and poverty. Add 2020’s hurricanes, tropical storms, wildfires and other natural and manmade crises around the world, and hunger is on the rise at record rates. We must rise against it. We all understand the effects of malnutrition and food insecurity on the lives of children. From the first 1,000 days in preventing stunting, through elementary school when a child’s development is so important to their success in life, we must work together to build solutions to overcome this hunger crisis.
“Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.”
This year’s World Food Day theme embodies the work that is required this year and beyond, and mirrors Rise Against Hunger’s strategic plan and our pathways to end hunger. “Grow” and “Together” tie into our pathway of “Growing a global movement to end hunger.” We must pull together in this critical time as no organization or country can defeat this hunger crisis alone. “Nourish” reflects our pathway of “Nourishing Lives,” in which Rise Against Hunger focuses on nutrition programs in educational settings. “Sustain” points to our “Empowering Communities” portfolio to co-create sustainable agriculture programs with local leaders. Our final pathway to ending hunger is “Responding to Emergencies.” This is a hunger emergency like we have never experienced before.

So, what are some specific, actionable ways that you can help? First, participate in World Food Day programming today and throughout the week. Please join the FAO by interacting with their content, and with Rise Against Hunger during our live virtual event. Invite your friends, share in your media channels and with your coworkers. Donate to organizations in the hunger fight like you’ve never donated before. Seriously, I challenge you to take out your wallet and help us keep our commitments to the 2 million people we serve. Become Hunger Champions and advocates for a crisis that is more crucial than ever. On this World Food Day, it won’t be easy, but with committed global efforts, I am confident that together we can tackle these challenges and that a world without hunger is still possible.