World Food Day
When is World Food Day?
World Food Day is an annual holiday dedicated to ending global hunger. Observed every October 16th, the primary goal of this holiday is to increase awareness surrounding world hunger and to encourage action. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that hunger kills more people worldwide than infectious diseases combined.
Startling Hunger Statistics
Despite a flourishing packaged food industry, hunger continues to be a global problem. According to the WFP, about 870 million people don’t get enough to eat worldwide. Hunger is a common health concern in developing regions, but financial concerns have caused an increased prevalence in developed countries, too. The recession is thought to have had a large impact on hunger statistics in the United States.
The prevalence of global hunger leads to many questions. Contrary to common belief, these statistics are in relation to a lack of access to food, and not to a global food shortage. Whether a family doesn’t have enough money, or oppression in communities keeps impoverished citizens away from nutrient-dense foods, the problem occurs in all areas of the world. Healthy food is a basic human right; now the challenge is getting people connected to this valuable resource.
A Holiday to Stop Hunger
There are numerous agencies and organizations established to help connect people with food. In 1945, the United Nations established the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which is responsible for tackling global hunger. While the agency has made significant gains over the last several decades, officials know that they alone cannot combat world hunger alone. This is why the FAO established World Food Day in 1979, and first observed in 1981. October 16th was chosen because it’s the same date that the FAO was founded.
Every year the FAO establishes a unique theme for World Food Day. Many of these themes have dealt directly with the agricultural aspect of food growth. Examples include “Agricultural Cooperatives” and “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security.” Other themes, such as “Women in Agriculture,” “Women Feed the World” and “Youth Against Hunger” have shed light on many of the social and cultural dilemmas facing the hunger problem. In 2013, the theme is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition.”
Celebrating Food for Everyone
Since 1981, the focus of World Food Day has been to educate the public about global hunger problems. Heightened awareness encouraged parents to teach their children not to waste their food at meals over guilt that other families didn’t have food. However, such sentiments don’t solve the problems of world hunger. This is why another important aspect of World Food Day is to help teach impoverished families how to access valuable food sources – this includes home gardening techniques.
While not a public holiday, World Food Day is celebrated in several countries across the globe. The United States has been a big advocate of the holiday since its creation. Many schools have special lessons about the problems surrounding world hunger, and many science classes hold special gardening projects. Other citizens donate food items to shelters and kitchens on World Food Day. Activities also include walks to raise money for hungry families, as well as holding special dinners every October 16th.