School Gardens in Developing Countries

Right now, world leaders are faced with a daunting challenge. At the current rate the population is growing, it is predicted that there will not be enough food to feed the world, especially in developing countries. Fortunately, the introduction of school gardens to education gives hope to the end of global poverty.

For many children in developing countries, students must walk to school at an utmost of 4 miles. Some children even walk to school knowing they will not have a lunch because their family could not afford the cost.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 795 million people are undernourished, meaning one in nine people will not receive enough food to lead a normal, healthy and active life.

Students cannot focus or comprehend new information in the classroom without a proper meal. If students do not learn and go to school, the cycle of poverty will most likely continue.

A solution to this problem exists with school gardens that can help overcome the nutritional crisis. Not only will children be guaranteed a meal during lunch, but they can also learn how to eat a healthy and nutritious meal.

For 14-year-old Marita Wyson, a student from Malawi, her school garden is making a lasting impact on her life and helping her gain the proper nutrients for healthy adolescent development.

“I am able to understand what my teachers are telling me,” she said. “My grandmother doesn’t have to worry so much about how she will provide food for me and my sister.”

With governments partnering with organizations around the world, school gardens are becoming increasingly popular and have shown to give students a better understanding about the environment. If children are introduced to agriculture and the environment at an early age, they are more likely to have a better attitude about the subject.

While the deadline for the U.N.’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals has passed this September, two of the most important goals — cutting poverty in half and making primary education universal — have come a long way since the turn of the century.

While poverty has been cut in half since 1980, primary education lags behind in developing countries including sub-Saharan Africa.

The introduction of these school gardens in developing countries may become the turning point in eradicating global poverty. With the world united, school gardens can make not only an immediate difference but ensure the future of children living in developing countries.

Alexandra Korman

Sources: FAO, KCET, The Christian Science Monitor, Vox World, WFP
Photo: Flickr

In 2013, the United Nations reported that eating insects could reduce world hunger and food insecurity.

Eva Muller, a Director of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says, “Insects are not harmful to eat, quite the contrary. They are nutritious, they have a lot of protein and are considered a delicacy in many countries.”

In fact, scientists have discovered over 1,900 edible insects. Some of these include beetles, wasps, caterpillars, grasshoppers, worms and cicadas. Scientists also claim that insects have more protein than beef and other meats.

Insects may also be better for farming than pigs and cows. Not only are insects easier to raise, but they also require less water, feed on waste materials, and produce less greenhouse gasses than cows and pigs. Insect farming could even provide income-generating opportunities for people in rural areas, which ultimately could decrease poverty and end world hunger.

After the report was published, Muller said, “Consumer disgust remains one of the largest barriers to the adoption of insects as viable sources of protein in many Western countries.”

Recently, however, eating insects has gained more popularity.

Daniella Martin, author of the blog Girl Meets Bug, says, “At any angle you look at it, insects have the advantage. They’re ecologically sustainable, use fewer resources and are a high-protein option. It’s also cleaner than livestock.”

Insect recipes are proving to be incredibly trendy, but most importantly, accepted by consumers.

With this in mind, perhaps more researchers can perfect technologies to grow insects in large numbers to feed people all around the world.

Bugs can do more than save the lives of the hungry, but can also conserve our planet.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Armenpress, Business Insider 1, Business Insider 2,
Photo: BugsFeed

Food Companies Leading in the Fight Against World Hunger - BORGEN
One out of nine people in the world go to bed hungry according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The United Nations World Food Programme is dedicated to reducing global hunger by offering food aid to developing countries in need. WFP has provided food for more than 90 million people. WFP partners with and receives funding from a few well-known food companies.

Yum! brands started the World Hunger Relief campaign as the largest consumer outreach campaign on the hunger issue. It is the world’s largest restaurant company with more than 40,000 restaurants in 125 countries. It is leading in the fight against global hunger through the campaign, as well as through the mobilization of the 1.5 million employees as advocates for global hunger relief.

Yum! brands’ World Hunger Relief campaign has raised $100 million for WFP since 2007 with the help of global spokesperson Christina Aguilera. Yum! brands include Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

PepsiCo is another partner of WFP. The company is more well known for its food and beverages than for the philanthropic PepsiCo Foundation. PepsiCo Foundation has donated $3.5 million to WFP to produce a food product made of chickpeas to help treat malnutrition in Ethiopia.

Unilever partners with WFP to make people more aware of global hunger through fundraising and campaigns as well as educational plans. They have targeted their consumer base in 13 countries in their campaigns against global hunger. Unilever has also assisted WFP in identifying what are the nutritional needs of the children to better help them.

Kellogg’s, though not a partner with WFP, does important work to fight global hunger. Kellogg’s donates over $20 million per year in food products for disaster relief and hunger. The company also has an initiative called “Breakfast for Better Days.” The initiative is focused on alleviating hunger specifically in South Africa, pledging to feed 25,000 children every school day in 2015. The company will dedicate one billion servings of Kellogg’s snacks and cereal for global poverty alleviation by 2016 and has donated nearly eight million breakfasts to FoodBank South Africa already.

An increase in awareness of global hunger has also increased the number of food companies coming on board to bring global hunger relief.

Iona Brannon

Sources: World Food Programme 1, World Food Programme 2, Hunger to Hope, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Kellogg
Photo: Flickr



food prices

The most recent Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Price Index indicates that food prices such as dairy and oil have reached their lowest levels since 2009. This is part of a global, ongoing trend that the FAO predicts will continue for the coming decade.

The FAO Price Index is weighted by trade and looks at international market prices for foods such as cereals, dairy, meat, sugar and oil. The August 6 release of the FAO Price Index pegged the Index at 164.6 points, down 19.4 percent from what it had been in 2014. Dairy prices have dropped 7.2 percent and vegetable oil prices are the lowest they have been since June 2009. Meat prices are at levels similar to what they were last year, while cereal and sugar prices have increased. Cereal price increases are attributed to poor growing conditions in North America and Europe, and sugar prices are increasing due to poor harvesting conditions in Brazil.

The FAO Price Index is supported by other data from Reuters. This data indicated that soybean prices have gone down 13 percent since August 2014, while wheat prices have dropped 14 percent and corn prices have dropped eight percent. Generally, the decrease in prices is attributed to an increase in global supply in conjunction with a decrease in demand, particularly from China, North Africa and the Middle East.

Across western Europe, specifically the United Kingdom, France and Belgium, farmers are demonstrating against the falling price of milk. The 7.2 percent drop in dairy price from August 2014 includes a one percent drop in prices since June. As farmers protest, European governments are considering giving them millions of dollars in support as a result of their livelihood being less profitable. The decrease in demand makes the increase in production a burden rather than a profit for producers.

However, the drop in food prices indicates the increased affordability of foods worldwide, particularly for domestic products. This allows for a greater number of people to afford food, especially in countries whose populations are seeing rising incomes. Consequently, populations have greater access to different foods and can diversify their diets.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: CNBC 1, CNBC 2, Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN, Reuters, United Nations
Photo: Ingredients Network

Indian MealIndia runs one of the largest and oldest government-provided elementary school meal programs in the world. It provides the main meal of the day for about 120 million of the country’s most impoverished children.

In the past ten years, the country’s economy has improved, creating a new middle class and a league of millionaires. Yet according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, India continues to have more than 195 million chronically malnourished people—the world’s highest amount.

The tribal state of Madhya Pradesh is no stranger to high malnutrition rates. Local food activists and public health policy specialists proposed adding eggs to meal programs in order to supply children with more adequate nutrition.

In late May 2015, however, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivrai Chouhan, publically announced that eggs were not allowed to be served in Indian meal programs in some tribal states. Instead, he suggested that bananas and milk be served.

Chouhan is an upper-class Hindu and a strict vegetarian. He says, “the body is meant to consume vegetarian food, which has everything the human body requires.”

In a country of 77 million, over 50 percent of children in India are underweight, undernourished and are in desperate need of better nutrition. A meal plan offering bananas and milk is not enough to offset the calories and nutrients lost due to living in poverty.

Health experts and activists are calling this a class issue, one where politics and religion are being fought over at the detriment of starving children. Dipa Sinha is an economist at the Center for Equity Studies in New Dehli. He explains that vegetarianism “is a very upper caste Hindu sentiment” linked to privilege and wealth.

Many lower caste Hindus, like those in tribal states, do not eat vegetarian diets and would eat eggs if they could only afford to. Christians and Muslims living in India also rely on meat. Dalit officials, a part of a lower caste, claim that the ban on eggs is upper caste Hindus trying to push Hindu principles unto lower caste Hindus and minorities.

This would not be the first time. In the past, Jains, a politically powerful group of vegetarian Hindus, successfully blocked eggs from meal programs in states such as Karnataka, Rajasthan and Gujarat. This is despite the fact that caste discrimination has been illegal for centuries.

Jean Dreze, a development economist, says that banning eggs from these programs is a “missed opportunity” to provide much-needed nutrition and encourage attendance. It has been shown that when eggs are served in schools in impoverished states, attendance increases as kids scramble for the rare source of protein.

“They are easy to procure locally, and storage and transportation aren’t a problem,” explains food rights activist Sachin Jain. “No…vegetarian food item is that good a source of protein.” A popular alternative, milk, comes with complications. Many times supplies dilute it and it is easy to contaminate. Plus, rural communities in India lack proper refrigeration, storage, and transportation methods for milk.

Jain explains, “I am a vegetarian. I have never touched an egg. But I have other sources of fat and protein…Tribals, Dalits, and other poor people don’t have these options. They can’t afford these things.” Eggs then become the perfect solution.

Lillian Sickler

Sources: NPR, CBS News, WSJ
Photo: Pexels

Words like eco, organic, healthy, tasty, and sweet can be found in one single product: chocolate.

If the word “chocolate” is not sufficient enough, the other good part is that many of these organic chocolate products are also fair trade chocolate bars that are creating a social change and an environmental impact.

Besides being socially and environmentally good, there are some brands of chocolate who also donate to different humanitarian and environmental causes.

Here are six chocolate brands that are creating social change:

1. Madécasse

This is a social enterprise that makes chocolate products and vanilla in Madagascar. According to their website, Madécasse measures their success by the quality of the product and the social impact they make in Africa.

The enterprise started by empowering cocoa farmers in Madagascar, and by providing training and higher wages. The brand also creates an environmental impact by protecting around 70,000 cocoa trees, that are part of the habitat of over 65 species of flora and fauna, through cocoa farming.

Some of the chocolate bars that Madécasse sells are Salted Almond, Sea Salt & Nibs, Toasted Coconut, among others.

2. Alter Eco

According to the Alter Eco website, the brand is reliably delicious, socially fair, and environmentally responsible. They work directly with farmers that grow cacao, sugar, rice, and quinoa through fair trade and organic practices. Alter Eco assists these farmers by improving their food quality and their life quality.

Some of the areas that Alter Eco works on are fair trade relationships, development of programs, and the empowerment of women. The brand’s products have compostable packaging and are organically grown.

Despite of not being a brand that only sells cocoa products, Alter Eco counts with a variety of chocolates and truffles. Some of the chocolate bars and truffles available are Dark Brown Butter, Dark Quinoa, Dark Mint, Dark Velvet, Salted Caramel Truffles, Sea Salt Truffles, among others.

3. Divine Chocolate

Divine Chocolate is an entity co-owned by 85,000 farmers in Ghana. From Kuapa Kokoo, these farmers produce fair trade chocolate through the premium quality cocoa that Kuapa’s has.

The brand also works for women’s empowerment by providing opportunities to women in cocoa farming. Furthermore, Divine Chocolate improves access to information for cocoa farmers through funds that support the Kuapa’s radio program.

Some of the chocolate products that Divine Chocolate offers are 38 percent Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Truffle, Dark Chocolate with Whole Almonds, and 70 percent Dark Chocolate with Mango & Coconut.

4. Equal Exchange

Through fair trade, Equal Exchange counts with different natural food products offered to consumers. They work with small-scale farmers and their co-ops from different countries around the world, such as India, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Uganda, Chile, among others.

Some of the products that the brand offers are coffee, organic tea, organic bananas, fair foods, and chocolate & cocoa. The brand sells organic chocolate bars, chocolate mints, candy bars, cocoa, and chocolate chips.

Some of the chocolate options available for purchase are Organic Very Dark Chocolate, Organic Panama Extra Dark Chocolate, Organic Mint Chocolate with Delicate Crunch, Organic Baking Cocoa, Organic Spicy Hot Cocoa, Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, among others.

5. SHAMAN Organic Chocolates

This brand of chocolate was created in order to support the Huichol Indian population from central Mexico. SHAMAN Organic Chocolates’ goal is to create good and ethical chocolate while they help this Indian population from Mexico.

The brand’s chocolate is a 100 percent organic, GMO free, it is fair trade chocolate, and 100 percent of the profits are donated to charity that supports three Huichol villages in Mexico.

6. Endangered Species Chocolate

Endangered Species Chocolate promotes global change by donating 10 percent of their profit to their partner organizations that support different humanitarian and environmental causes.

The causes that the brand’s partners support are the conservation of species, habitat conservation, and humanitarian efforts.

The brand pays for premium ingredients for their chocolate in order to make sure that cocoa farmers are being supported and helped, and species are being protected.

The products that Endangered Species Chocolate offers are Natural Cocoa Spread, Natural Hazelnut with Cocoa Spread, Natural Almond with Cocoa Spread, 60 percent Dark Chocolate with Lemon Poppy Seed, 60 percent Dark Chocolate with Blackberry Sage, 60 percent Dark Chocolate with Cinnamon, Cayenne & Cherries, Dark Chocolate with 88 percent Cocoa, and Dark Chocolate.

With many brands offering fair trade organic chocolate products, helping the environment, people and donating to charity can be a way to support many humanitarian and environmental causes, and contribute to the social change that these chocolate brands are creating.

Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Madecasse 1, Madecasse 2, Madecasse 3, Alter Eco Foods 1, Alter Eco Foods 2, Alter Eco Foods 3, Alter Eco Foods 4, Alter Eco Foods 5, Divine Chocolate 1, Divine Chocolate 2, Endangered Species Chocolate, Shaman Organic Chocolates, Equal Exchange
Photo: Dubaruba


“Genetically modified organism,” or GMO, is a popular term rampant in mainstream Western food culture. Being critiqued for being unhealthy and harmful to the human body, GMOs have gotten a bad reputation.

Many companies like Chipotle, 365 (Whole Foods store brand) products, and Annie’s products pride themselves in earning a non-GMO sticker from the Non-GMO Project, certifying that they have gone through the motions to avoid GMOs in their food.

However, although sometimes controversial in Western culture, GMOs are transforming the agriculture platform all over Africa. GMOs serve as an efficient tool to use when farming.

In all forms of farming, GMOs serve as a way to curb diseases from reaching crops and increase the number of crops grown. An organism developed in laboratories helps poor farmers to not only be efficient but to earn more money for their families.

However, putting the economic advantages of farming with GMOs aside, many are against GMOs because of the potential health problems they present for the human body.

Due to obesity, a lack of government oversight and harm to the environment, many are against the integration of GMOs in agriculture. Others have also accused those who have patented GMOs (like Monsanto) of only pushing them forward so they can make a profit.

A positive is that it helps to defend crops who are potential candidates for diseases. According to AAAS, GMOs “pose no greater risk than the same foods made from crops modified by conventional plant breeding techniques.” But many, like the Non-GMO Project and Responsible Technology, suggest otherwise.

According to some, the use of GMOs can put money into the pockets of poor farmers, which, in turn, helps to eliminate extreme poverty. Their ability to provide food for those in their region would also help people who are not farmers. They would be able to provide food at a lesser cost.

However, should the overall health of people be sacrificed so they can eat consistently? Is the push for GMOs to be used really for the benefit of the poor farmers or the companies who have patents on them?

Perhaps GMOs should be used until those in extreme poverty have the ability to purchase crops that are less damaging to their long term health.

The debate over the use of GMOs on those in extreme poverty will continue to develop.

– Erin Logan

Sources: The Guardian, Non-GMO Project, AAAS, Huffington Post, UC Berkley, Responsible Technology,
Photo: The Guardian

usa food wasteWhat’s the number one risk to worldwide health? The answer may surprise you–it’s not AIDS or malaria, but hunger and malnutrition. One in nine people in the world do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. And yet, in countries like the United States, there remains a shocking excess and waste of food products that could be used to feed millions around the globe. As people become increasingly conscious about recycling and the environment, they should also take a moment to turn their attention to how much they put on their plates. The following points are seven eye-opening facts that shed light on just how extensive the problem of American food waste is.

1. Let’s Talk Calories

The volume of American annual food waste might be better understood in terms of calories. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that each year, a staggering 141 trillion calories are gone unconsumed. This is equivalent to around 1,300 calories per capita, per day. This is approximately the number of calories consumed by a small adult or child in a day, meaning that these wasted calories could go toward nourishing several hungry people.

2. Just How Much Food Is 141 Trillion Calories?

Not everyone likes to count calories, and even fewer know what exactly a calorie is. To put it in different terms, over a third of the entire U.S. annual food supply is wasted, a total of 133 billion pounds. That equals more than 20 pounds of food per person per month. Most everyone knows what pounds are, and that’s a lot of them.

3. Americans Waste Some Foods More Than Others

According to the USDA, the top three kinds of food thrown away in 2010 were dairy (25 billion pounds), vegetables (25 billion pounds) and grains (18.5 billion pounds). These are three of the essential food groups on the food pyramid.

4. The U.S. Navy Throws Away What It Can’t Fit In Its Boats

The government provides the brave men and women of the U.S. Navy with the food and drink necessary to make their sea excursions bearable, but sometimes it isn’t possible to get all the food that is given to them into the storage space of their vessels, which are often very small. One might suppose that when this happens the food is donated to a local homeless shelter or food bank.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Because the U.S. government could be held liable for any sickness that might result from the consumption of a donated food product, the Navy is forced instead to throw surplus provisions away. The extra microwave pizzas and cereal pouches might not seem like much, but this wasted food could be used to feed a family in need.

5. Americans Throw Out More Food Than Pretty Much Anything Else

Food waste makes up over a fifth of American garbage, and half of the waste accumulates at landfills. America tosses more food into the trash than paper, plastic, metal or glass—with 5 million tons as the smallest discrepancy.

6. Food Waste Hurts The Environment

The aforementioned landfills are filled with decomposing organic waste that produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 20 times more dangerous than carbon dioxide. These landfills are the largest producer of methane emissions in the United States, making up almost a quarter of the total emissions, according to the NRDC.

7. On the Bright Side…

The amount of food wasted, not only by the United States but by other nations as well, suggests that alleviating world hunger isn’t a matter of producing more food. Instead, it is a matter of better managing the food that is already produced, by preserving it and distributing it more thoroughly. There is enough food to feed all 7 billion people in the world. It just needs to get to put in mouths instead of in the trash.

Katharine Pickle

Sources: NPR, Washington Post
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The State of Food Insecurity Report - The Borgen Project
An important aspect in the success of the Millennium Development and Sustainable Development goals is the recording of progress over time. The State of Food Insecurity Report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) helps look at the initiatives that have worked to sustain food security in developing nations. Focusing on hunger is the first step to ending poverty and maintaining sustainable development. By looking at economic growth, agricultural productivity and international trade, development can be improved according to what continues to work.

The State of Food Insecurity Report finds that “about 795 million people are undernourished globally, down 167 million over the last decade, and 216 million less than in 1990-92,” according to FAO. Although food insecurity has been declining, there is still a chance of stagnation if economic growth slows in Central Asia, Western Asia, and South Africa.

The Millennium Development Goals reach their deadline this year, therefore, new goals have been developed. The Sustainable Development Goals focus on innovative ways to eradicate poverty for good. One way the U.N. does this is to educate farmers on how to efficiently grow crops. This helps feed families in surrounding regions and provides income for farmers to help with economic growth. Taking a sustainable approach to food security, rather than exporting food, maintains the distribution of goods.

Although the report focuses on hunger, many aspects of development affect the result of food security in developing populations. The economic growth of a nation positively affects the nourishment of people in poor countries. However, the report also notes that “it also must include social protections, which include basic human rights and a safety net providing basic needs,” according to Deseret News.

Poverty continues to decline with the implementation of the MDGs and SDGs. Despite this, there still remain people in underdeveloped countries who experience malnutrition and a limited access to education. “The 2015 report not only estimates the progress already achieved, but also identifies remaining problems, and provides guidance on which policies should be emphasized in the future,” says the FAO. The importance of tracking the progress of development goal plans will help the U.N. come closer to completing its ultimate goal of eradicating poverty by 2030.

-Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: Food and Agriculture Organization 1, Deseret News, Food and Agricultural Organization 2,
Photo: Dr. John La Puma

On May 28 of this year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization signed an agreement with the World Union of Wholesale Markets designed to reduce food waste and improve food security for the world’s urban poor.

According to the FAO, about one third of food produced for human consumption each year is lost or wasted. It estimates that over 40% of root crops, fruits and vegetables are lost or wasted, along with 35% of fish, 30% of cereals and 20% of meat and dairy products. This figure tallies up to an estimated 1.3 billion tons of food with an economic value of $1 trillion. These losses are quickly becoming concentrated in cities, where over half of the world’s population lives. Moreover, this figure will increase by 2050, as two-thirds of the people on earth are expected to live in cities.

Getting food to the urban poor is a novel challenge. Many low-income families live in “food deserts,” areas where there is no easy access to food, much less fresh food.

Eugenia Serova, head of the FAO’s Agro-Industry Division, said in a press release, “more efficient wholesale markets, and overall urban market outlets, can result in more affordable means to reach the city poor with healthy food.”

According to Ms. Serova, this new agreement is as much about learning how to deal with the future as it is about handling the challenges of the present: “If close to 90 percent of the expected increase in the global urban population in the next two decades will take place in cities in Africa and Asia, it makes much sense to build solid knowledge on how to strengthen urban market systems.”

WUWM has agreed to work with the FAO to tackle these challenges with an eye toward sustainability and inclusiveness.

Donald Darnall, a member of the board of directors of WUWM, said, “Some 60 percent of wholesale markets we’ve surveyed said managing food waste was their number-one challenge for the next five years . . . Our markets are embracing ‘good practices’ to reduce waste and we see this as an opportunity to develop improved waste management strategies and share solutions.”

The two agencies hope to develop a set of better practices for wholesale markets in urban settings. The goal is a more efficient flow of information and a dramatic reduction in food waste and loss. The partnership also hopes to improve producers’ access to markets, make food handling safer and more consistent and eliminate urban food deserts.

WUWM is connected to wholesale marketers in 43 countries, giving it access to an enormous amount of data. With this much data and expertise at their disposal, the FAO and WUWM are well on their way to finding new methods of improving efficiency, ensuring better quality of produce and ultimately cutting waste.

– Marina Middleton

Sources: UN News Centre, World Union of Wholesale Markets Seattle Pi Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN
Photo: Flickr