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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently released The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 (SOFI), its annual report on how hunger and food insecurity are affecting people around the world. This year’s report confirmed two crucial facts: rates of hunger and food insecurity are increasing around the globe, and economic downturns caused by the pandemic did contribute to these increases. In this post, we’ll break down the report and what it means for those facing hunger, for Rise Against Hunger’s efforts and how you can take action right now.

According to SOFI, more than 720 million people are now facing hunger around the world. Almost 10% of the world’s population, or one in every 10 people, is undernourished. Additionally, nearly 2.37 billion people are food insecure, meaning they do not have regular access to the nutritious food they need to live a healthy life. Food insecurity has been on the rise since 2014, but the number increased by 320 million people in just one year — a staggering increase equal to the previous five years combined. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic impacted people across the globe last year, it was predicted that its effects would result in a spike in food insecurity. The State of Food Security and Nutrition report states that “almost all low- and middle-income countries were affected by pandemic-induced economic downturns.” These economic downturns, as well as conflict and climate change, are major contributors to the increase of food security and hunger around the world. 

The pandemic is also still affecting lives around the world in 2021, so the full impact on global hunger continues to unfold. A recent article from The New York Times highlighted that the World Food Program and FAO jointly reported that conflict, economic downturns and climate change are “expected to drive higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hot spots over the next four months,” primarily in Africa, Central America, Afghanistan and North Korea. The New York Times article also estimates that “270 million people are expected to face potentially life-threatening food shortages this year.”

What does this mean for Rise Against Hunger’s work? 

For Rise Against Hunger, this year’s report reinforced the importance of our commitment to the children and families we serve. While the SOFI data is alarming, it also shows how important action is right now. Addressing food insecurity is more important than ever, and our organization remains steadfast in our work to end hunger. Last year, Rise Against Hunger impacted more than 2.8 million lives in 41 countries and introduced our COVID-19 Relief & Resilience Plan, which we’re continuing to implement this year.

Source: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021, Figure 27: Possible Pathways Towards Food Systems Transformation to Address Major Drivers of Food Insecurity, Malnutrition and Unaffordability of Healthy Diets

The SOFI report details focus areas crucial for impactful change to food security, and the approaches of our Pathways to End Hunger align with several of these. Our Empowering Communities projects work to boost agriculture production and incomes, promoting improved agricultural methods, including ones that build resilience to climate change and encourage diverse diets, and improved business skills and market access in the communities served by the projects. These sustainable agriculture and income-generating initiatives, therefore, directly connect to three of the paths featured in the report: “strengthening resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity,” “scaling up climate resilience across food systems” and “strengthening food environments and changing behavior to promote positive dietary patterns.” 

Additionally, our Nourishing Lives pathway aligns with “tackling poverty and structural inequalities.” For example, the Rise Against Hunger meals provided through school feeding programs encourage school attendance and performance, which supports these children’s opportunities for a bright future. As we move forward, our Pathways remain pivotal to our work to end hunger.   

How can Hunger Champions take action? 

Now is the time to make an impact and work together to address food insecurity across the globe — and you can get involved. Donate to support Rise Against Hunger’s work to provide crucial nutrition to those facing hunger during this critical time. Are you part of a group of people who want to make a hands-on impact? Find out more about hosting a meal packaging event in your community. Sharing this blog post on your social media platforms is also critical to Growing the Movement to end hunger and combating hunger worldwide! 

Shared in Blog, Nourishing Lives