In recent years, technology and applications have had an increasingly philanthropic purpose. The latest of these technologies is the Share Your Calories application. The app was designed by Catherine Jones, a well-known author of nutrition cookbooks, Elaine Trujillo, a leader in nutrition, and Stop Hunger Now, an international agency aimed to end hunger across the globe.

The app can be used to help people lose weight while simultaneously providing food to people harmed by natural disasters. By adding a philanthropic purpose, the designers of the application aimed to give users another goal as well as more motivation to eat healthier. Studies also show that spending on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves, so the application, in and of itself, allows users to feel lasting happiness.

The application allows users to monitor their daily activities and food intake through a calorie bank determined by bio-data. If they do not consume all the calories in their calorie bank, the user has the option to convert the extra calories into monies. Once they have accumulated $12, the user has the option to donate to Stop Hunger Now.

Each Stop Hunger now high-protein dehydrated meal is equivalent to 250 calories and 25 cents.

The financial contributions from the Share Your Calories App go toward Stop Hunger Now meal packaging events. Each of these meals contains rice, dehydrated soy and vegetables as well as a vitamin-mineral pack. These meals are easy to store and have a shelf-life of 2 years.

These meals are currently distributed through host-organizations, but the funds from this application will also allow smaller groups and businesses to participate.

This application hopes to bring in $95,000 to build an android app, provide basic nutrition information, translate the app into different languages, etc. The Stop Hunger Now effort is supported by the Medical Science Foundation, TruBios Communications, iSO-FORM, The Ohio State University Food Innovation Center and the Experiment.

Lienna Feleke-Eshete

Sources: IndieGoGo, FoodTank
Photo: Irish Red Cross

Engendered in 1998 by Ray Buchanan and colleagues, Stop Hunger Now (SHN) is regarded as a successful international hunger relief organization, having received a four-star rating by Charity Navigators for its excellent management of resources. The organization is primarily sponsored primarily by corporate and individual donations.

With the establishment’s headquarters located in Raleigh, North Carolina at the intersection of the intellectual and innovative Research Triangle Park (RTP,) the organization has established itself as a powerful combatant against global hunger.

By distributing much-needed resources such as food, medicine, and other supplies to impoverished countries, SHN aims to reduce the extent of suffering and plight in the world. Over the past 15 years, SHN has generated more than $100 million in aid to 65 countries in need.

In addition to raising monetary funds for hunger relief, ever since 2005, the organization has also taken part in the ubiquitous creation and distribution of meal packages. These inexpensive packages, costing a mere 25 cents apiece, are rich in necessary nutrients such as soy, vegetables, and 21 crucial minerals and vitamins.

The assemblage of these vital packages are often constructed by volunteers and undertaken as a community-wide endeavor often taking place at local institutions such as Raleigh’s North Carolina State University. Additionally, completed meal packages serve a dual purpose as they provide much-needed relief to impoverished communities yet, in their completion, simultaneously educate volunteers about international hunger.

Furthermore, since the establishment’s adoption of the meal-packaging program, SHN has packaged and provided 127,964,644 meal packages. Approximately 70 percent of these meals are allocated for transformational development programs such as schools, orphanages and clinics, aiming to eradicate hunger at its source by promoting education and autonomy.

Not only do these meal packages provide subsistence for impoverished communities, they also deter activity that often ensnares youth in the cycle of poverty. According to a student at the Lakay School in Haiti, “For many children like me, the food we eat at Lakay is the only plate of food that we eat all day. With this food we are able to make sure that we won’t have to do bad things in the street in order to survive.”

Having raised $100 million in relief efforts and providing over 127 million meal packages to disadvantaged communities, within its mere 15 years of operation, through fundraisers and its unique meal-packaging program, SHN has upheld its vow to help reduce world hunger one meal at a time.

Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Stop Hunger Now, North Carolina State University, Rice Select
Photo: Spring Hill College

In America, obesity has become a major issue.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Department, more than one third of United States adults are obese and as of 2012, more than a quarter of American children are obese.  Alongside the U.S., obesity has become a major issue abroad in countries such as China.

Obesity leads to serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.  Obesity increases the medical cost for individuals by more than $1,400 per year and government spending on healthcare costs by $147 billion.  Obesity also decreases the productivity of individuals, which with all of these combined demonstrate its negative effect on the economy.  As obesity is a highly emphasized global concern, much of that sentiment can be equally shared to its counter: the issue of hunger.

Even though it might seem that obesity and hunger are entirely different issues, they resurrect from the same origin – a nutritional system.  Understanding the causes of these two issues will further establish the significance to this underlying connection. Take, for instance that while the cause of obesity is an excessive consumption of unhealthy food and lack of exercise, the cause of hunger is a lack of food or conduct to establish a healthy diet.  For both, the root of the problem is the farming industry.

Most of the food supply comes from developing countries.  If the farmers do not have access to good farming equipment and farming technology, they will be more likely to use toxic farming chemicals on their land and cattle. In result, the produced food contains several unsafe chemicals that contribute to the potential causes of obesity.

In a TED talk, Ellen Gustafson suggested the solution to both of these problems is to increase the funding for farming industries and feed the hungry children in developing countries. By increasing the fund for farming, farmers can have access to better farming technology to enable producing healthier food for their home countries and exporting countries.  Additionally, more healthful diets help children in poverty countries grow up with both a healthy physicality and mental ability.

On a further note, hunger is a primary reason that children in poverty countries cannot go to school.  Improving the ethics in the farming industry and food supply to laborers, children in poverty can go to school, get educated, earn a better income and acquire a better livelihood while also contributing back to their society.

Phong Pham

Sources: Ted Talks, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obesity Society

Stop Hunger Now
Stop Hunger Now (SHN) is a hunger relief organization with the mission to end world hunger by providing food and other life-saving aid to children and families in countries all over the world. The organization believes addressing the problem of hunger is the single point where they can leverage relief for all humanitarian issues.  

In 2005, SHN created its meal packaging program, which dedicates to make and distribute meal packets for countries in need. People working and volunteering in the program combine rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into small meal packets. According to SHN website, each meal costs only 25 cents. The food stores easily, has a shelf life of two years and transports quickly.

This program has branches in the United States, South Africa, Malaysia, Philippines and Italy. Many religious institutions, civic organizations, corporations and schools have organized SHN meal packaging events. One SHN packaging event can result in the packaging of more than 1,000,000 meals.

So far, SHN has provided over 70 percent of its meals to support transformational development programs across 65 countries, such as school feeding programs, vocational training programs, early childhood development programs, orphanages, and medical clinics. It has packaged about 127 million meals.

SHN aims to allocate 80 percent of its meals to transformational development programs by 2015.

This organization partners with many non-profit organizations around the world to provide food and other aid to those in need. Those partners are chosen based on a comprehensive evaluation, including their effectiveness, sustainability, ability to import, store and distribute meals and impact.

In December 2013, SHN built a partnership with Share Your Calories (SYC,) a movement to improve people’s health and to end world hunger. It dedicates to impact both weight-loss issues and hunger issues by empowering users to take control of their own health and to make an impact in the fight against world hunger.

SYC is developing a mobile app, which is expected to be available in May. The app will allow users to track calories consumed and burned off.  Users can store unused calories into a Calorie Bank and then donate them to SHN by “sharing” them via the app. Every 250 shared calories will be converted to $0.25.

SHN believes that the world has sufficient resources to feed everyone and it is possible to end hunger in people’s lifetime.

Liying Qian

Sources: Stop Hunger Now, Stop Hunger Now-2, Stop Hunger Now-3, Share Your Calories

There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but due to a variety of factors, global hunger persists. In fact, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO,) the world produces enough food for everyone to intake 2,700 calories a day, much more than the recommended 2,000.

Nevertheless, nearly a billion people go to bed hungry. The reason behind this is multifaceted. Astounding amounts of food are wasted due to poor transportation and storage infrastructure. Even more goes in the trash uneaten. A great deal of grain crops are used for bio-fuels and animal feedlots rather than starving people. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact hunger is caused by inequality.

How are people to combat this inequality? Countries such as Brazil and Ghana have shown success through raising their minimum wage, giving cash to poor people, and investing in small-scale farms. World hunger comes down to the fact that many people simply cannot afford food, with over a billion people living on $1 a day.

The history of poverty begins with globalization and colonialism. When land is privatized and controlled by the few, the majority of people are forced into selling their work for food. Land ownership in the hands of the few is the main cause that spurred income gaps throughout the world.

Colonies exploited the resources and land of their colonies and kept them saddled in debt by claiming ownership in order to maintain this advantage for the long run. Today, less than 25 percent of people use more than 80 percent of the world’s resources. This is a direct result of the economic repression that so many populations are under and have been under for hundreds of years.

Greed led to colonial powers gaining monopolies and establishing claims on resources that were not theirs. Greed led them to effectively enslaving their colonies under shackles of labor and heavy debt for land and resources that originally belonged to the colonies. Although there are many great NGOs and advocacy agencies that have brilliant ideas for solutions to global hunger, few acknowledge colonialism as the original foe, and lack of land ownership as the original problem.

Perhaps people can examine this complex issue more clearly if they perceive it as a parable. In a sun-drenched country, men live peaceful lives on their own farms. One day, a greedy man takes over, burning all their farms and forcing them to work for him. This man builds one massive farm, and exploits their labor and pushes growth, seeking to eat up the rest of the smaller farms in the land. In the end, he is the one who gets all the profits, while the rest barely survive.

This is not a story anyone wants to hear, but it is one that has been in action for centuries. Let us acknowledge this past and seek ways to start a new story.

Jordan Schunk

Sources: Alternet, The Economist, The Guardian, Huffington Post

The World Food Program announced that over the next year, nearly a million people in the Gaza Strip will require food aid. The U.N. agency is requesting $95 million from donors to assist those in need.

Due to the projected increase in those who will need international aid, more countries will have to donate to effectively assist those who are food insecure.

According to the executive director of the agency, Ertharin Cousin, the rise in those who are hungry and requiring aid has risen 7 percent since last year and this has largely been exacerbated by Israel’s occupation of Palestine, the Palestinian Authority’s financial crisis and high unemployment rates.

The conflict has destabilized the entire region, and competing interests for resources from states and corporate interests have left those most vulnerable without basic security and trapped in poverty.

Another reason for the most recent increase in families needing aid was the recent closure by the Egyptian government of smuggling tunnels. The tunnels that ran under the border to impoverished Palestinian enclaves provided access to jobs and construction projects, including a clandestine route for militant groups and weapons trafficking.

Currently, about 813,000 Palestinian refugees are receiving food aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The organization expects a 10-20 percent rise in demand in 2014 as the conflict continues to destabilize the region, displaces more people, and keeps the cycle of poverty continuing.

Food security is a major issue for those living in the Gaza Strip. A majority of households are food insecure. In 2012, some 71 percent of impoverished households in Gaza are either food insecure or vulnerable to food insecurity. Without assistance these food insecurity levels are surely to continue to rise.

Compounding the lack of food is unemployment. Maher al-Tabbaa’, an economist from the West Bank,  recently told Reuters he expected the coastal territory’s unemployment rate for 2013 to rise to nearly 38 percent.

With less job security comes more hungry families needing more aid from the global community. Without funding from donor countries the food crisis will only continue and will also serve to further the conflict and the ongoing violence that has already cost too much.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: Forward, Sydney Morning Herald

The latest conflict driven food crisis has emerged and come to international attention by aid agencies. The thousands who have been displaced in the most recent outburst of violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being aided by the World Food Programme (WFP) and were recently visited by the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Powers.

In Bangui and elsewhere in the country, fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and created a humanitarian crisis in which food is a top priority and a main concern for security. It is believed that hundreds of people have been killed in the country since the outbreak of conflict at the beginning of the month and insecurity makes it harder to deliver food to communities that need it. There are still reports of killing in the countryside and the turmoil as created a difficult situation to successfully deliver food aid in

Nearly 127,000 displaced people are in Bangui alone, and these numbers are only  expected to increase. The WFP is giving families rations of maize meal or rice, split peas, vegetable oil and salt. More food is being brought in, but stocks are quickly depleting. Many have gone for days without eating before receiving assistance from WFP-run sites. Activities are frequently disrupted by waves of violence

Seasonal harvesting in some parts of the country has been severely disrupted by the conflict. Aid agencies are scaling up to reach more than a million people in the CAR in 2014. Muslim and Christian fighters continue to carry out atrocities on both sides creating more need and making more families vulnerable.

With the visit of Powers, the highest-ranking U.S. official ever to visit the country, comes $15 million in humanitarian aid from the U.S. Her main focus on the trip was to try to lessen the violence in the country. Christian and Muslims have a history or inter-relations, but the country has been in chaos since the coup in March.

Powers is urging religious leaders to help promote peace and reconciliation and that the government must hold all militias to account

Without a break in violence, aid cannot successfully be delivered and only more will need assistance and food.

Nina Verfaillie
Feature Writer

Sources: NPR, World Food Programme
Photo: Vintage 3D

There are many ways that people try to make a difference in the fight against hunger in our country. One in every six Americans struggles to provide their families with nutritious food, and the ideas that people are coming up with to get the message out to the masses are becoming increasingly thoughtful and innovative. Now, the satellite radio audience will have the opportunity to take part in Hungerthon 2013, a joint initiative by SiriusXM and WhyHunger.

WhyHunger and the popular satellite radio service provider have teamed up to offer satellite radio listeners the opportunity to take part in the annual initiative to educate and build the movement to end hunger and poverty in the United States. Throughout the holiday season, satellite radio listeners will have a chance to bid on items being auctioned off on the SiriusXM website.

Some of the items auctioned off in support of this year’s Hungerthon include a Katy Perry autographed “California Dreams” Tour Jacket, a piano bench signed by Gavin DeGraw, an Al Merrick surfboard signed by Jimmy Buffett, and a Fender acoustic guitar signed by multiple artists including Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Dave Matthews, and Jack Johnson.

In collaboration with Hungerthon 2013, WhyHunger has also released an interactive music app called John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes. The app provides users a look into John Lennon’s sailing journey to Bermuda that inspired the album “Double Fantasy.” Users can also hear unreleased demos and learn about different collaborations from the album. Net Proceeds from app purchases benefit WhyHunger and Hungerthon 2013.

Hungerthon has been raising funds and challenging the idea that anyone should go hungry through its national radio campaign for 28 years. Through the power of music and sensational involvement from prominent figures in the music industry, Hungerthon’s important message has been communicated to millions.

Daren Gottlieb

Sources: Hungerthon, WhyHunger, SiriusXM
Photo: Saucy Sprinkles

overpopulation public health
There is much debate whether overpopulation poses public health risks. Some believe it is the cause of hunger and poverty throughout the world while others feel that it has never been a problem.  It is important to shed light on this fear of overpopulation as its consequences are said to be evident in all developing countries.

Several reports about Africa’s growing population has been connected to the starvation of millions of people. Every year 32.5 percent of children in developing countries suffer from malnutrition. Sustainable population advocates have pointed to the approximate 200 million hunger-related deaths in the past twenty years. Deterioration in global biodiversity has also been linked to overpopulation. Substantial data of species loss has been presented by countries such as China, Brazil and Mexico. Human settlements that are gradually increasing according to the rate of population is said to ruin the benefits of nature and destroy habitats. The consequences of overpopulation is also suggested in access to education, primarily in Africa. In African classrooms, children are unable to learn due to overcrowding.  Access to water, medical care and housing are all diminished when there are more people that require aid. Data from the United Nations further suggests that by 2050, 10 percent to 15 percent of land that is farmed today will not be available. This could potentially lead to a food crisis as the current population increases at a faster rate.

Those supporting a sustainable population see hope in public policies being employed in countries such as Bangladesh, Iran and Thailand. Results from securing social services to women and families indicate a large decrease in undernourished people in Asia, from 23.7 percent to 13.9 percent. This downward trend from simply giving access to birth control and adopting policies that give aid to small families suggests that overpopulation is an issue that can be solved.  Policies that provide family planning to those in remote, rural areas in Asia has led to stability in undernourishment over time. By merely shifting the focus on public policy these countries quickly witnessed better health standards, quality of education and housing availability, all of which offer hope to the remaining developing nations.

– Maybelline Martez

Sources: Scientific American, Huffington Post, World Hunger