By Osprey Brown
It has been said many times that the chronic hunger crisis is staggering. With close to a billion hungry people in the world—falling slightly over the last year—it seems like an insurmountable task to provide so many people with food. The World Food Programme, a UN organization, is making significant contributions to decrease world hunger.
The problem of world hunger, on the one hand, is simple, insofar as the solution only requires that people receive the nutrition they need. On the other hand, however, there are various nuances to achieving this goal. Chronic hunger is a generational problem which results from undernourished mothers giving birth to children, and also children failing to receive proper nutrition in the first two years of life. These factors produce whole generations which suffer from other health problems in their life time as a result.
These children’s mental and physical development is severely impaired as a result of early childhood malnourishment, and it is more difficult to give them the proper nutrition later in life. Providing children food at school is one solution that has particular impact. In addition to providing children with nourishment that will hem the generational problem of hunger, it provides incentive for parents in developing countries to send their children to school when they otherwise might not have. Children, particularly girls, are more likely to receive some sort of primary education as a result. Good nutrition is also crucial to proper brain function and improves concentration in school.
WFP School Meals program does just that. In 2008, School Meals reached 22.6 million children in 68 different countries. Not only did WFP manage to reach such a large number of children with School Meals, but 48 percent of them also received health hygiene and education packages. Out of the 22 million that received meals at school 4.3 million boys and girls were given take home rations, 12 million children were de-wormed, and 55 percent were also equipped with potable water and sanitary facilities. What is similarly impressive about the success of this program is it has provided all these resources almost equally to girls as to boys.
WFP is the largest humanitarian agency devoted solely to fighting world hunger. Its impact is measured by the millions: men, women, and children all across the world who would have otherwise gone hungry. Through their influence, strategy, and approach WFP has provided more than 90 million hungry and malnourished people with food in 73 countries, moving on average 3.7 million tons of food. If you want to find ways to get involved you can give through UniversalGiving, or find ways to participate in World Hunger Week this year—this and other information can be found on their website.