Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Food for Thought

While Canadians are sitting down to enjoy their Thanksgiving Day meals with friends and family this weekend, this Sunday's food for thought is about just that: food.

Hunger Facts: International:

World Hunger and Poverty: How They Fit Together

* 852 million people across the world are hungry, up from 842 million a year ago.3
* Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes--one child every five seconds. 3
* In essence, hunger is the most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food. 1
* Hunger manifests itself in many ways other than starvation and famine. Most poor people who battle hunger deal with chronic undernourishment and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which result in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness. 1
* Countries in which a large portion of the population battles hunger daily are usually poor and often lack the social safety nets we enjoy, such as soup kitchens, food stamps, and job training programs. When a family that lives in a poor country cannot grow enough food or earn enough money to buy food, there is nowhere to turn for help. 1

Facts and Figures on Population

* Today our world houses 6.55 billion people. 2
* The United States is a part of the developed or industrialized world, which consists of about 57 countries with a combined population of only 0.9 billion, less than one sixth of the world’s population. 4
* In contrast, approximately 5 billion people live in the developing world. This world is made up of about 125 low and middle-income countries in which people generally have a lower standard of living with access to fewer goods and services than people in high-income countries. 4
* The remaining 0.4 billion live in countries in transition, which include the Baltic states, eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. 4

Facts and Figures on Hunger and Poverty

* Worldwide, more than 1 billion people currently live below the international poverty line, earning less than $1 per day. 9
* Among this group of poor people, many have problems obtaining adequate, nutritious food for themselves and their families. As a result, 815 million people in the developing world are undernourished. They consume less than the minimum amount of calories essential for sound health and growth. 3
* Undernourishment negatively affects people’s health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being. A lack of food can stunt growth, slow thinking, sap energy, hinder fetal development and contribute to mental retardation. 1
* Economically, the constant securing of food consumes valuable time and energy of poor people, allowing less time for work and earning income. 1
* Socially, the lack of food erodes relationships and feeds shame so that those most in need of support are often least able to call on it. 1
* Go to the World Food Programme website and click on either "Counting the Hungry" or "Interactive Hunger Map" for presentations on hunger and poverty around the world.

Facts and Figures on Health

* Poor nutrition and calorie deficiencies cause nearly one in three people to die prematurely or have disabilities, according to the World Health Organization. 5
* Pregnant women, new mothers who breastfeed infants, and children are among the most at risk of undernourishment. 5
* Every year, nearly 11 million children die before they reach their fifth birthday. Almost all of these deaths occur in developing countries, 3/4 of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, the two regions that also suffer from the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition. 3
* Most of these deaths are attributed, not to outright starvation, but to diseases that move in on vulnerable children whose bodies have been weakened by hunger. 6
* Every year, more than 20 million low-birth weight babies are born in developing countries. These babies risk dying in infancy, while those who survive often suffer lifelong physical and cognitive disabilities. 3
* The four most common childhood illnesses are diarrhea, acute respiratory illness, malaria and measles. Each of these illnesses is both preventable and treatable. Yet, again, poverty interferes in parents’ ability to access immunizations and medicines. Chronic undernourishment on top of insufficient treatment greatly increases a child’s risk of death. 6
* In the developing world, 27 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely underweight. 10 percent are severely underweight. 10 percent of children under 5 are moderately to severely wasted, or seriously below weight for one’s height, and an overwhelming 31 percent are moderately to severely stunted, or seriously below normal height for one’s age. 7

There are many ways to help the hungry. One of the simplest is just a click away and doesn't require anything more than clicking on a button each day. Locally, please donate to your food banks and support shelters for the poor. Even one can of food makes a difference. Internationally, please donate to aid programs and keep pressure on your government to do its part.

Hunger can be eradicated. It's just a matter of will.

October 17th is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Spread the word.

No comments:

Post a Comment