It certainly goes without saying that a lack of food and starvation are problems that affect people all over the world. According to a UN report, an estimated 820 million people went hungry in 2018. In the United States alone, more than 37 million people struggled with hunger, including 11 million children. The causes of hunger are many, including poverty, climate change, political conflict and instability, and economic slowdown.
It is utterly necessary to aid these people in need, but the strategies for helping feed the hungry and empowering them to sustain a healthy lifestyle are many. Whether it’s as an organization or as an individual, there is plenty that one can do to do their part in solving hunger both at home and abroad.
Steps that organizations can take
One of the primary methods for solving hunger is to develop and support sustainable agriculture. This means that we must rethink the way we grow and share our food. Farming should environmentally conscious so that we can continue to reuse land, should be economically profitable for farmers and agricultural workers, and food that is grown should be affordable for people to buy. If done right, it’s entirely possible for the combination of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries around the world to provide nutritious food for every hungry person.
Bringing technological innovation to areas in need is perhaps the most effective way to accomplish these goals. One organization, Farming First, features a number of case studies where providing new technology has had a significant impact on farming communities around the world. One example involves using new tools and techniques in Sri Lanka to cultivate chili in the off-season, while also reducing crop diseases and increasing yields.
Another important way that organizations can solve hunger is by supporting women in agriculture — a goal that is near and dear to my heart. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations revealed that women make up 45 percent of the agricultural labor force in developing countries. Not only that, but a persistent gender gap makes things more challenging for them. They face higher rates of poverty and have less education opportunities. They must also manage more responsibilities, such as caring for their children, and have less access to land and resources.
Steps that individuals can take
First and foremost, donating to the organizations that are addressing world hunger is always a viable option. I think perhaps more than any other area of need, each donation toward hunger has a tangible impact on someone’s life.
Of course, the same is true for an individual who works to alleviate hunger in their own communities. It’s just as important to address the need for healthy food at home as it is to help globally. To reemphasize, any effort made is meaningful and life-changing. Donating money to a local charity is an option, but donating to a food drive or a food bank can allow a person to directly serve the hungry in their community. And according to the USDA, food waste in the United States is estimated at between 30-40 percent of the food supply. So much good food goes to waste, and by individuals can avoid that by giving away the food they don’t eat. Not only does this help families in need, but on a wider scale it can also help reduce the amount of land, water, energy, and labor spent transporting and disposing of discarded food items.
Another meaningful way to serve the hungry at home and in local communities is to support universal free lunches. Children learn better and behave better when they’re well-fed, and as previously mentioned, an estimated 11 million children in the US go hungry. Stories of the impact of “lunch debt” and “lunch shaming” exacerbate the issue — our goal should be to adjust the system so that lunch debt no longer exists and healthy lunches are provided to every student no matter what.
Individuals can contribute to erase lunch debt, but importantly, they can speak to their school district’s food service director and school board members to push for better policies. People can find out what their local school’s Wellness Policy is, and if it doesn’t satisfy, then organizing fellow parents, teachers, and even students to shed light on shortcomings can help bring about meaningful policy changes that make sure that no child in school goes hungry.
It’s clear that there is a multitude of ways to aid in the fight against hunger, both on macro and micro scales. What’s most important is even taking action — as long as organizations and individuals are dedicated to aiding the underfed, we can continue to make a difference.