Can the United States do more to fight world hunger?

President Obama said recently he will work with Congress to double US support for global food security to over $ 1 billion. What does this mean for the 963 million people in the world who do not have enough to eat? (963 million is more than the populations of the USA, Canada and the EU combined.)

At present, there are between 350 and 400 million children in the world who are suffering from hunger.

It’s not enough. The World Food Programme, which is the United Nations frontline agency in the fight against global, provides food assistance to about 100 million people in 80 countries every year. It’s the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

WFP needs about $6 billion in 2009 to meet the needs of those 100 million and it depends on the United States as its largest donor to meet about 40% of those needs.

The US made an extraordinary effort in 2008, providing WFP over $2 billion in contributions. But current US food aid budget appropriations for fiscal year 2009 can only sustain a US contribution of about $1.3 billion this year.

Let’s take a closer look. In our world:

  • 25,000 people (adults and children) die every day from hunger and related causes.
  • More than 60 percent of chronically hungry people are women.
  • Every six seconds a child dies because of hunger and related causes.

The number of undernourished people in the world increased by 75 million in 2007 and 40 million in 2008, largely due to higher food prices.

Hunger is not caused by a shortage of food. In fact there has never existed such an abundance of food, yet 963 million people in the world go hungry. Read about what causes hunger here: http://www.wfp.org/hunger/causes

The economic stimulus passed by the US Congress earlier this year included $20 billion in additional funding for food and nutrition programs for the economically vulnerable in the United States. This is good and right. No one should go hungry in the richest country in the world. The question is, can we Americans and citizens of other rich countries dig deeper during this time of economic challenge? If the US provided a little under a billion more in new food assistance we could continue to sustain our commitment at a $2 billion level during this fiscal year. Are you willing to write to your Congressman, or Senator, or Member of Parliament to make sure your country continues a high level of financial support to global food assistance programs?

You can also help fight world hunger this Mother’s Day by feeding a hungry child in your mother’s name.

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