World Food Day: waking up to hunger
I’m lucky. I was raised in a nice house, in a nice cul-de-sac. My dad was a teacher, my mum a civil servant. I’m about as middle class as you can get.
Whilst not exactly rich, I’ve never wanted for anything. Food-wise the most difficult decision in my house revolves around whether we’ll be having beef or lamb for the roast this Sunday.
Hunger is something I’ve never truly experienced. I’ve been hungry; that’s for sure. But hunger is something I’ve always eluded.
I remember reading once that hunger was like having your “brains simply run quietly out of your head, leaving you empty.”
I know it’s a massive cliché but those are words that have haunted me ever since. For me there is something ‘other-worldly’ about hunger – it’s something that I know exists but is thankfully something I’ve never had to live through.
It shouldn’t happen here
How can I ever truly appreciate what hunger means when I know there is always a supermarket full to the rafters just around the corner?
I think many people feel the same way I do. That would explain the sheer shock created by our It Shouldn’t Happen Here report, which came out last month.
For the first time we could see the true extent to which hunger has taken a foothold in the UK – and quite simply it was shocking!
Some 61% of parents living in poverty said they had to cut back on food and over a quarter interviewed stated they had been forced to skip meals in the past year.
With more food banks opening every week and more families living on the breadline, there’s proving to be growing hunger in the UK’s poorest communities. Yet for most of us, it remains just out of sight.
Hunger below the surface
I’ve recently returned from overseas where it was actually much the same. Almost everywhere I looked I was confronted by food. Markets were crammed with bags of rice and pasta, stalls laden with piles of exotic fruits and hooks occupied by haunches of poorly cut meat.
At first glance people didn’t look hungry, but then again looks can be deceiving.
When I really looked and started to speak to the poorest families it was clear that hunger was present just below the surface here aswell.
I met far too many families who didn’t have enough to eat, who would skip meals and send their children out to beg for scraps. I met children who were forced to go to bed early so that breakfast would come sooner. I saw first-hand what hunger really is and how it effects those most vulnerable.
Time to tackle hunger
Anyone who keeps up-to-date with the news knows that hunger is becoming a global issue. With poor harvests in the USA and across Europe, global food prices continue to rise.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), nearly one in every seven people now suffers from undernourishment; that’s over 870 million people.
World Food Day comes this week just as people are starting to wake up to the genuine threat hunger presents. Climate change, population growth, water shortages and rising food prices: these are now the principal threats to our future.
As my experiences of hunger in both the UK and overseas have shown me, hunger can easily go unnoticed.
Now a global issue, hunger is impacting on everyone and everything. It’s something we can’t continue to ignore. Instead it’s time we tackle hunger head on and work on real sustainable solutions.
This World Food Day, join the global movement to end hunger. Be a part of the solution and take action in your community and around the world.