"If you could eat only one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?"
This is the way we often speak about food. It's a hobby, a pastime and a vehicle for community. For many, however, food isn't just about fun. It's a matter of life and death.
I ask myself about food often. I wonder, "When am I going to eat dinner?" and "What will I want to eat? Will I want dessert?" In fact, as I write this, I'm considering whether I should eat a snack. But I've never had to ask myself, "Am I going to eat at all?"
In homes around the world, children are asking that very question. They are waking up weak and tired, knowing that today will be another day they won't get to eat. Just like yesterday ... and the day before. Right now, mothers are frantically counting coins and checking cupboards, hoping they can scrape something together.
Families are starving. And starvation statistics are so staggering that it can feel impossible to make an impact. But behind every number and every statistic is a face and a name—and a child who will die without help.
So right now, ask yourself this question: What do I really know about the hunger crisis? And how can I help?
Here are six true or false questions to test your knowledge:
- True or false? One out of every nine people suffers from a debilitating lack of food.
True. Hunger and malnutrition kill more people than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined, and it is a widespread issue. Globally, 1 out of every 9 people will go to bed hungry tonight. That means if you put 30 children from around the world in one classroom, at least three of them would be starving to death. And when you look specifically at places like Zimbabwe, Uganda, Haiti and Syria, that percentage only grows.
- True or false? The main cause of global hunger is overpopulation.
False. There are enough grains and vegetables grown every year to feed the global population several times over. The problem comes when the world's food supply is not evenly distributed. Extreme poverty, war, famine, political unrest and drought are just a few of the reasons a community can find itself without access to nutrient-dense food. The majority of the world's hungry live in developing nations, and there is simply no way to survive when disaster strikes.
- True or false? Hunger affects all ages and genders equally.
False. The victims of malnutrition and starvation are overwhelmingly young and female. In some cultures, it is customary for the women in a family to be the last to eat. This means what little food the family can afford goes to the men, leaving females and children with almost nothing to eat. When a malnourished woman becomes pregnant, her child is far more likely to be born underweight and undernourished, and she will likely struggle to produce enough milk to keep the child fed. From Day One, that baby will be fighting a losing battle against starvation.
- True or false? Malnourishment leads to nearly half the deaths in children under the age of 5.
True. The first few years of a child's life are crucial to his overall growth and development; without proper nutrition, children experience "stunting." It is estimated that in South Asia, half of all children are plagued with stunting and are unable to fully develop. This impacts not just the body but also the development of the brain.
- True or false? The most dangerous effect of starvation is extreme weight loss.
False. Bony limbs and protruding ribs are indeed scary outward signs of starvation, but it's inside a child's body where the battle for his life truly rages. After days without food, his body burns through the last fat for fuel. When that fat is gone, it turns to the next available thing—internal organs. Slowly, painfully, a child's body deteriorates from the inside out. The heart is usually the last organ to go, finally becoming too weak to pump any longer.
- True or false? The world's hunger crisis can be solved in our lifetimes.
True. In 2015, the United Nations set a goal of solving world hunger by 2030 and determined it was 100 percent achievable. Now, if you've been paying attention to news surrounding this topic, you may know that the world has recently gotten off track from this goal because of the current refugee crisis and several looming famines. But before you get too discouraged, consider this: in the past 20 years, the number of people suffering from hunger has been reduced by 200 million. We may be facing a setback, but as Chase Sova of World Food Program USA put it, "If this fight to end hunger of the modern era were a football game, we'd be taking a massive lead into the fourth quarter."
World Help is doing what we can to help clench that victory, and you can too. It takes just $40—less than we probably spend on a week's worth of groceries—to provide food for a starving child for an entire year. We can help solve the world's hunger crisis, one person at a time.
Listen to the podcast to hear an interview with World Help's President Noel Yeatts.
Emily Towns writes for World Help, a Christian humanitarian organization serving the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world. To learn more about how you can fight global hunger, click here.
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