Food Security is a Domestic and Global Challenge
Hunger is an insidious threat to global health. By 2050, as the world’s population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion people, achieving food security will require at least a 60 percent increase in global agricultural production. Even the U.S., where as many as 17.4 million households face food insecurity, is not immune to the threat of hunger and malnutrition.
What is food security and why is it so important? According to the USDA, “Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” Unfortunately, nearly 800 million people worldwide suffer from chronic hunger. Hunger and starvation is a crisis with devastating effects. It not only changes behavior and mental status, it also weakens the immune system, stunts growth, and can lead to death. Chronic hunger and under-nutrition primarily result from poverty. Those living in poverty often cannot afford to buy enough food to keep their bodies from becoming under-nourished.
So how can we help prevent people from suffering from this crisis? On a worldwide level, the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative was launched by the Administration in 2010 to address the increase in the proportion and absolute number of hungry people worldwide caused by the global food price crisis of 2007-2008 and the global economic crisis. Feed the Future agencies work hand-in-hand with 19 partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. Feed the Future helps in many different ways, from increasing agricultural productivity and resilience, to preventing recurrent crises and helping communities withstand and bounce back after a crisis, to improving nutrition.
Some Americans also face food insecurity. For example, in the western and Upper Peninsula areas of Michigan food insecurity affects 1 in 8 people. Communities around the world facing food insecurity deal with it in different ways. In some places, family members help the less fortunate, while in America, many communities provide assistance through food pantries and soup kitchens. The work of these organizations depends upon the active support of volunteers at local soup kitchens and food pantries.
On April 17, 2016, KANAVA International volunteered with the Chippewa County Sunrise Rotary Club to work in the local soup kitchen in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and served food to approximately 30 guests. Sault Ste. Marie, with a population of 14,144, has only one soup kitchen, which is run by the Salvation Army. The First Presbyterian Church takes over on Sundays for lunch so the Salvation Army can have a small break each week. The community comes together taking turns to help supply, cook, and serve at these Sunday Soup Kitchens. Attending a recent Soup Kitchen was a single mother of three who is an aspiring artist looking for work. She was appreciative of a place to bring her children for a nice hot meal. During lunch, KANAVA staff members had an opportunity to spend some time working with her on brainstorming potential job possibilities and discussing alternative outlets for selling her artwork.
Soup kitchens and food pantries like this are very important to communities. Soup kitchens allow for people to eat a free meal each day. This improves their food security and allows them to save money to spend on other family needs. People facing poverty need to have access to help like this while they are attempting to get back on their feet. From single mothers to military veterans – poverty does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, and it is so crucial for communities to come together and lend a helping hand. Whether you donate your time or money, helping to provide food security to your neighborhood community or your world community is more important than ever.