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This year, Heifer International joins a host of other organizations, associations and institutions to mark World Food Day, Oct. 16, 2011, a worldwide event to increase awareness and understanding of, and to encourage informed, year-around action to alleviate hunger.
For Heifer, this task is a full-time job—ending hunger and poverty and caring for the Earth—but for most, it's something they think about only on this day. With the threat to food security for families in developing countries, this simply isn't enough.
According to the World Bank, last year, the volatility in food prices—due to climate, conflict and natural disasters—pushed 70 million people into extreme poverty. That is equal to the number of people living in the states of Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, New York and California!
Every year, organizations such as Heifer, Bread for the World, Feeding America and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have used World Food Day to inform the public about what they can do to help end world hunger. There have been some successes, as the number of undernourished people worldwide has decreased since 2009 to nearly 1 billion, but that is still a billion people who don't know where their next meal will come from, or even if it will come at all.
According to a recent FAO report, in Africa nearly one-third of the population is undernourished and a child dies ever six seconds due to hunger-related issues. Every six seconds!
We agree with Robert Engelman, Worldwatch Institute president, who said, "There's something wrong with a world in which a billion people can't get enough to eat for normal health while a different billion people threaten their health by overeating." Informing is no longer enough. Action is needed, immediate and resolute, if hunger is ever to be eradicated, or even marginalized, as it must be.
Heifer International is already engaged, and now it's time for others—local coalitions, national sponsors, schools, businesses, worship centers, government offices, service groups, media—to join the effort. These are things that can be done, must be done:
Each person and organization that speaks out helps to build a more food-secure world, and a more secure world in general, as when there is hunger there can be no justice or peace.
Join Heifer International this year to recognize World Food Day and do what you can to help. Give generously. Donate food or your time to a local food bank. Speak up at government and school board meetings for farmers who are doing their part but need a helping hand or access to markets.
There is no single solution to world hunger and real change will require real commitment. World Food Day 2011 is the right time for us all to commit to the effort. We can—and will—end hunger.