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World Food Day: Road to Zero Hunger

I’m hungry. This casual statement is uttered countless times throughout the day by people from all walks of life around the world. For some of these people, this statement reflects a temporary experience that can be addressed in a kitchen full of food or with a visit to a local restaurant. Many others are not so fortunate.

For several decades, we saw progress toward eradicating hunger and food insecurity around the world. This is no longer the case. In fact, we are trending in the opposite direction with hunger and food insecurity soaring at unprecedented levels. Here’s what we know.

  • 690 million people in the world suffer from chronic food insecurity, that is, the long-term lack of access to enough food. This number could exceed 840 million by 2030, if current trends continue.
  • The number of people facing acute food insecurity—periods of extreme hunger over a defined period of time—is likely to double from 135 million to 265 million in 2020, in large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The global prevalence of undernourishment—or overall percentage of hungry people—has changed little at 8.9%, but the absolute numbers have been rising since 2014. This means that over the last 5 years, hunger has grown in step with the global population.
  • Asia is home to the greatest number of undernourished people at 381 million. Africa is second at 250 million, but its undernourished population is growing at a faster rate. Latin America and the Caribbean come in third with 48 million hungry people. 
  • More than 2 billion people, mostly in low and middle-income countries, do not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. Irregular access is also a challenge for high-income countries, including 8% of the population in Northern America and Europe.
  • 1 in 9 people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life.
  • There is a critical link between food availability and diet quality, which has a direct impact on malnutrition. In essence, diet quality worsens with increasing severity of food insecurity.
  • There is more than enough food produced in the world to feed everyone on the planet.

Experts say there are numerous factors for the growing prevalence of undernourishment. Among the most dominant are:

  • Poverty
  • Economy/job insecurity
  • Commodity-import dependence/food supply disruption
  • Nutritional quality
  • Food loss and waste
  • War and conflict
  • Climate change and weather disasters
  • Forced migration
  • Gender inequality

Zero Hunger by 2030

The United Nations has set a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity. The plan states, “We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.” More specifically, goal 2—end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition to promote sustainable agriculture—focuses on realizing zero hunger by 2030.

Together We Can Make A Difference

World Food Day is an opportune time to reflect on how our work as a science of food and food innovation community can help realize a world with zero hunger.  But, how can we get there?   Head on over to our Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter pages to share your thoughts on our World Food Day posts.

REFERENCES

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.” 13 July 2020. http://www.fao.org/3/ca9692en/online/ca9692en.html#chapter-executive_summary

United Nations. “Goal 2: Zero Hunger.” https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/hunger/

World Economic Forum. “Global hunger fell for decades, but it's rising again.” 23 July 2020. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/07/global-hunger-rising-food-agriculture-organization-report/

World Food Programme. “COVID-19 will double number of people facing food crises unless swift action is taken.” 21 April, 2020. https://www.wfp.org/news/covid-19-will-double-number-people-facing-food-crises-unless-swift-action-taken 

 

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