The United Nations defines hunger as periods of time when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity, going without eating for days on end.
People do not go hungry because the world does not produce enough food for everyone. Even though more than enough food is available in the world to feed everyone on the planet, still, about746 million people worldwide go to bed hungry every night.
On May 28th, we observe World Hunger Day. This year marks the tenth year of the observance, which aims to focus attention on the fact that despite global progress, every year some 9 million people die as a consequence of hunger.
For over a decade, the number of people suffering from chronic hunger was falling consistently, according to the United Nations. While 15 percent of the global population were under-nourished in the first four years of this century, this number fell to less than 9 percent by 2015. However, over the next five years more and more people began to fall into food insecurity again, largely due to conflict, extreme climate events, and other shocks to economic opportunities. Between 2018 to 2019 alone, the number of undernourished people grew by 10 million.
Then came the COVID-19 pandemic and the peripheral effects that are resulting from it. Sputtering economies are resulting in a poor job market and reductions in incomes. At the same time, disruptions in food supply chains mean a decreased food supply resulting in price increases. The effect on the poorest and most vulnerable populations, those who were already suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition, is devastating. And because COVID-19 caused global disruptions to the transport systems, it became harder to reach communities that found themselves in need of aid.
The United States is, by far, the world’s largest international donor of food assistance. Working through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, as well as a myriad of other assistance programs under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the United States will continue to lead the way in the age-old fight against hunger.