The Hunger Project Celebrates World Food Day 2019

October 5, 2019

The Hunger Project joins people all over the world on World Food Day (October 16) to raise awareness of hunger and malnutrition and inspire actions to eliminate hunger for good. This year, World Food Day turns an eye to the ultimate goal: Healthy Diets for a #ZeroHunger World. It calls for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to everyone.

According to the FAO, a healthy diet is one that “meets the nutritional needs of individuals by providing sufficient, safe, nutritious and diverse foods to lead an active life and reduce the risk of disease.” It includes, among others, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains, and foods that are low in fats (especially saturated fats), sugar and salt. Nutritious foods that constitute a healthy diet are not available or affordable for many people nor do all nutritious diets look the same around the world.

In Hunger Project programs, we know that a key to achieving a nutritious diet entails empowering communities to leverage their local natural resources.

In Mexico, for example, an indigenous community near San Jose Tenango in Oaxaca saw their rates of undernutrition rise after a national government-mandated food pyramid suggested that only certain grains and meats comprised a nutritious diet — meats and grains that were not available in their rural community. Rather than dramatically modify the community’s eating habits, The Hunger Project worked with the community and a local university to analyze the nutritional value of their indigenous crops. It was determined that the vegetarian diet practiced for generations was, in fact, the most viably nutritious diet. The community was then able to generate their own food pyramid, tailored to the indigenous diet of their region and — along with additional training and water conservation — improve health and nearly eradicate undernutrition. Innovative investment in local resources and capacity is more critical than ever in the battle to sustainably end hunger.

The 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report released in July 2019 explores the unsettling and ongoing rise in global hunger. For four years now, the prevalence of food insecurity – a measurement of world hunger – has been increasing slightly but steadily. Over the course of 2018, almost one million additional people fell into conditions of hunger, bringing the estimated total people affected to 821.6 million. Nearly all of these people live in underdeveloped regions. Africa in particular continues to bear the brunt of this reality with 20 percent of its population – more than 256 million people – suffering from undernourishment.

Organizations around the world can join The Hunger Project in leveraging influence regionally and at the highest levels of government to promote sustainable farming practices; raise awareness of nutritional requirements, and build capacity to adapt to climate change.

Facts and Figures

  • While over 820 million people suffer from hunger, over 670 million adults and 120 million boys and girls (5–19) are obese and over 40 million children under five are overweight.
  • Over 150 million children under five are stunted and over 50 million are affected by wasting.
  • Unhealthy diets, combined with sedentary lifestyles, have overtaken smoking as the world’s number one risk factor for disability and death worldwide.
  • Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than hunger.
  • Different forms of malnutrition can co-exist within the same household and even the same individual during their life and can be passed from one generation to the next.
  • An estimated USD two trillion is spent each year to treat health problems caused by obesity.
  • Billions of people lack the nutrients their bodies need to lead an active and healthy life.
  • Of some 6,000 plant species cultivated for food throughout human history, today only eight supply more than 50 percent of our daily calories. We need to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods.
  • At least 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women.
  • 99 percent of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries.
  • Maternal and child undernutrition contributes to 45 percent of deaths in children under five.
  • The number of people around the world who do not have reliable access to safe and nutritious food is over 2 billion – roughly 26 percent of the world’s total population.
  • Over 670 million adults and 120 millions girls and boys (15-19) are obese, and over 40 million children under five are overweight.
  • Unhealthy diets, combined with sedentary lifestyles, have overtaken smoking as the world’s number one risk factor for disability and death worldwide.
  • An estimated two trillion USD are spent each year to treat health problems caused by obesity.

What We Do:

  • Empower communities to create, stock, and manage their own food banks. In Africa, Hunger Project epicenter food banks provide storage for excess harvest and ensure the food security of our partners during off-seasons.
  • Develop income-generating activities. The Hunger Project supports financial independence for women, from sewing projects in Mexico to cow-fattening projects in Bangladesh. In Africa, our Microfinance Programs address a critical missing link for the end of hunger: the economic empowerment of the most important but least supported food producers on the continent – Africa’s women. Partners learn how to increase their incomes and use their savings to improve the health, education and nutrition of their families. Learn more.
  • Promote sustainable farming practices. Local agricultural experts teach Hunger Project partners how to create and manage community farms. Villagers learn techniques to sustainably improve crop yields, providing entire communities with increased access to food.
  • Promote universal education for all women, men and children in communities where we work. Education is fundamental to achieving our vision of a world where every woman, man and child leads a healthy and fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity. That is why it’s at the heart of all our work ending hunger. In our preschool programs in Africa, going to school also ensures at least one healthy and nutritious meal per day. Learn more.
  • Advocate for women-centered, community-led development. Development happens in communities. It is in communities that women, men and youth can discover their voice, assert their rights, and mobilize action to achieve their aspirations. That’s why we have launched a global movement to promote community-led development. Learn more.
  • Promote girls’ rights and end child marriage in the communities where we work. Ending child marriage is key to ending hunger for good. When girls aren’t forced to marry as children, they can focus on their education and break the cycle of malnutrition. Watch this video to learn more about the link between hunger and child marriage. Learn more.
  • Promote climate change resilience. While we must all deal with the effects of climate change, people living in conditions of hunger and poverty are at the greatest risk. Building more resilient communities that can cope with environmental challenges is at the heart of The Hunger Project’s approach. Learn more.