The Borgen Project PodcastEver wondered why starving kids have big bellies? The answer is somewhat simple and the solution even more so. Starving kids’ bellies appear bloated due to a lack of protein in their diets. The premiere episode of The Borgen Project Podcast explores this phenomenon in more detail as well as efforts to fight child malnutrition globally.

At The Borgen Project, we fight for the world’s poor and write about preventable issues. Global hunger is one of them. Today, 828 million people are going to bed hungry and over 34 million people in 14 countries are facing emergency or catastrophic levels of hunger.

Listen to the inaugural podcast episode from The Borgen Project below.



Solutions to Addressing Starvation in Children

In 2022, the global hunger crisis forced one child into severe malnutrition every 60 seconds in 15 most-affected countries around the globe. More than 14 million children worldwide were projected to be severely malnourish by the end of the year. Historically, in order to bring a child back from the brink of starvation, the child would need to receive medical care from a doctor. However, RUTF (ready-to-use therapeutic food) offers a more accessible way for malnourished children to get the essential nutrients they need to recuperate. Plumpy’nut is an example of one such tool. It is a ready-to-use food paste that is packed with vitamins. Mothers are able to administer Plumpy’nut directly to their children at home. turning barely surviving children into functioning toddlers. This goes to show that global hunger is a solvable problem.

Moreover, by providing these solutions, children everywhere will have the opportunity to contribute to their communities and become productive members of society in their adulthood.

Helpful Links

Photo: Flickr

The United Kingdom is known for being a popular city for tourists with sites, such as Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. However, what may not be as well-known is the fact that the UK struggles with a significant class difference. It has an ever-widening gap between the poor and the affluent, which leads to high rates of poverty in the UK, specifically for children.

Child Poverty

Child poverty is one of the most notable effects of overall poverty in the UK. This poverty crisis struck Britain hard in 1999. Its child poverty proportion became the highest out of all of the western European countries.

In 2016-17, poverty impacted nearly 30% of children — 4.1 million — in the UK. In the following year — 2018-19, the number of children in poverty in the UK increased by 100,000. The trend is on an upward spike rather than its 2003 downward rate when child poverty was made a priority. Poverty in the UK needs to be addressed, especially among the youth. It leads to increased hardships in life from education to mental and physical health to employment and so much more.

Use of the Film Industry

Films produce major results in ending poverty. The film industry has positively impacted poverty in the UK in many ways. For one, the film industry creates many job opportunities. In 2009, the core UK film industry created or impacted nearly 100,000 jobs relating to film production, sales and tourism. Furthermore, portrayals of the UK in films contribute heavily to tourism and yearly account for about £1.9 billion. That brings the total UK film industry contribution in 2009 to raising the GDP by more than £4.5 billion.

The improved economy can be a promising solution for aiding the UK’s children out of poverty. The country can use the funds to help out the struggling citizens, focusing specifically on the poor. In this way, films pose as a promising solution for poverty aid in other countries as well.

“Poor Kids”

The amount of money and the impact the film industry has on the UK is astounding and a promising solution for poverty. However, the impact one film made for children in poverty is even more remarkable.

The film, “Poor Kids,” has made great strides toward improving the lives of impoverished UK children. The film illustrates the living situations of three families in poverty through the lens of the children. Courtney (age 8), Paige (age 10) and Sam (age 11) give detailed and heart-wrenching accounts of their experiences growing up in poverty. The film received much acclaim. It was a Broadcast Best Documentary Nominee, a Learning on Screen Nominee, a Televisual Bulldog Best Documentary Nominee and received the Chicago Film Festival Gold Plaque for Social and Political Documentary in 2012.

Films awards aside, “Poor Kids” sparked change in the community. Make Lunch is a program that began after Poor Kids debuted as a direct result of the film. The program contributes free meals to children during the times when school is not in session and when children could potentially go for a long period without food. In the summer of 2012, as many as 13 lunch kitchens were providing the free lunches.

And That’s A Wrap

The effects of poverty in the UK are prevalent, notably in the large number of impoverished children. The worsening situation provides a sense of sorrow to the country, but a solution presents itself. Films not only contribute to the wealth of a country, but they provide jobs as well. Both of these aspects could be potential resources to utilize when fighting poverty.

Additionally, films bring about emotion, and that creates change. The inspiration that “Poor Kids” ignited contributed to a charity that helps the children in poverty. With results, such as the Make Lunch program, films can yield great benefits for poverty in the UK and the world.

Hailee Shores
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a country in the southwestern Pacific. Often thought of for its beautiful beaches, active volcanoes and coral reefs, Papua New Guinea has an incredibly diverse culture. The country is home to many different tribal groups and is the most linguistically diverse country in the world, with more than 800 indigenous languages. However, while the island nation has beautiful scenery and rich culture, hunger continues to be a prevalent issue. Here are five facts about hunger in Papua New Guinea.

5 Facts About Hunger in Papua New Guinea

  1. Nearly 50% of children in Papua New Guinea are malnourished. As of 2018, almost half of the children in Papua New Guinea suffered from chronic malnutrition. This is much higher than the global average and causes a large percentage of hospital deaths for children under five. Malnutrition can have lasting effects on children, leading to health complications in their adult life.
  2. Data gathered on food insecurity in Papua New Guinea is scarce. Collecting data on the nourishment of those in Papua New Guinea is difficult, and limited data leads not only to limited reporting but also to limited decision making. Despite knowing that many families living in rural, low-income communities are food insecure, it is difficult for the government to create effective policy changes without accurate statistics.
  3. Volatile weather causes droughts and increases food insecurity. Papua New Guinea faces unpredictable climate catastrophes, including active volcanos and inconsistent rainfall. Since 2015, Papua New Guinea has been affected by the climate phenomenon El Niño, which caused a disruption in weather patterns and a drastic decrease in rainfall in the region. Reduced rainfall led to issues producing crops and livestock and resulted in a severe drought in the region. Food availability was already low in many regions and the drought led to even more hunger in Papua New Guinea. In addition to contributing to food insecurity, the reduced rainfall also led to decreased access to clean water. As a result, many families turned to alternative water sources that present further health issues, such as dysentery and typhoid.
  4. Papua New Guinea is committed to achieving a zero-hunger world by 2030. In 2018, the Minister for Agriculture and Livestock in Papua New Guinea, Hon Benny Allen, committed himself and his country to achieving food security for all of Papua New Guinea. Allen created a strategy that includes placing agricultural issues at the forefront of the country’s focus. He promised to make the people the focus of these initiatives by creating sustainable food systems and improved climate disaster preparedness.
  5. Papua New Guinea created a National Food Security Policy. The National Food Security Policy 2018-2027 outlines a concrete plan to address food insecurity in the nation. The policy states that food security is a basic human right and lays out five priority strategic action areas. These strategic areas include increased productivity and efficiency in food staple production, stability in supply systems, enhanced nutrient content in foods for consumption by vulnerable households, female empowerment in agriculture, and strengthened governing, coordination, monitoring and communication.

While Hunger in Papua New Guinea is faced by many in the island nation, the country is moving toward a more sustainable and equitable future. Through the National Food Security Policy and commitment to zero-hunger, Papua New Guinea aims to ensure every citizen has access to food.

– Jazmin Johnson
Photo: Flickr

op 10 Facts About Hunger in Australia
Australia, home to more than 25 million people, is often regarded as a regional power with one of the strongest economies in the world. However, a significant portion of Australia’s population suffers from food insecurity. Many are unable to afford enough food to feed both themselves and their families. Here are the top 10 facts about hunger in Australia to know:

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Australia:

    1. More than four million people in Australia suffer from food insecurity. According to Foodbank Australia’s 2018 Hunger Report, more than four million Australians suffer from food insecurity, approximately 18 percent of the population.
    2. One in five children is hungry in Australia. Foodbank Australia reports that 22 percent of children in Australia suffer from food insecurity, and of that 22 percent, nine percent go at least one day a week without a single meal. Additionally, 29 percent of parents report they go a full day without eating at least once a week so their child has something to eat. In order to fight this, some schools provide breakfast programs. Charities such as Helping Hands provide families with weekly access to fresh food for a small donation.
    3. Women are more likely to suffer from hunger. Often due to living on low incomes or pensions, women are at a higher risk of hunger. Women are 31 percent more likely to suffer from food insecurity than men. Women with low incomes have a 49 percent chance of experiencing food insecurity while the rate for men is 38 percent.
    4. Indigenous Australians suffer disproportionately. Food insecurity affects roughly 30 percent of Indigenous Australians, both in remote and urban areas. In cities, Indigenous Australians often experience low incomes and lack of access to cooking facilities, making them more susceptible. In the country, options for purchasing food are limited. On average, Indigenous Australians spend at least 35 percent more of their income on food than Non-Indigenous Australians. However, the Australian government has worked to fight hunger with its Close the Gap campaign. Close the Gap was established in 2008 and focuses on achieving health equality for Indigenous Australians.
    5. Hunger is a greater issue in remote areas. Australians who live in remote areas are 33 percent more likely to suffer from food insecurity than those in cities. In cities, 17 percent of the population suffers from food insecurity. In remote areas that rate is significantly higher at 22 percent.
    6. Hunger negatively impacts mental health. Of Australians impacted by food insecurity and living in remote areas, 65 percent report feeling stressed, and 60 percent say that their situation makes them feel depressed. Australians living in urban areas report similar feelings: 54 percent report they felt stressed and 48 percent report food insecurity makes them feel depressed. Foodbank Australia found that 42 percent of those who receive aid say it helps improve their mental health and wellbeing.
    7. Australia’s high cost of living contributes to hunger. Wage growth has stagnated in recent years while Australians experience heavy cuts to welfare payments. Electricity prices have simultaneously skyrocketed. Consumer spending has plummeted, as increases in wages are unable to sufficiently match increases in costs. As a result of either an unexpected expense or expensive bills, 49 percent of Australians who suffer from food insecurity report being unable to afford food.
    8. Single-Parent Households are more vulnerable. Food insecurity impacts 39 percent of single-parent households in Australia, meaning they are the household type most likely to be hungry. Nearly two-fifths of all single-parent households struggle to put food on the table compared to 23 percent of single person households and 22 percent of family households with children.
    9. The task of providing food to the hungry is placed into the hands of nonprofits. The Australian government has yet to establish a government program that focuses on fighting food insecurity. Australia’s state welfare agency, Centre, does provide a one-time payment to those in crisis but has yet to establish additional support. Feeding the hungry has been placed in the hands of charities and private donors.
    10. Charities are unable to meet the demand for food. Only 36 percent of charities are able to fully meet the food needs of those they serve. This means 64 percent of food needs are still not being met. Additionally, these statistics do not account for those suffering from food insecurity who have not approached a charity. Furthermore, charities are completely unable to provide for seven percent of those who approach them each month.

These are the top 10 facts about hunger in Australia that illuminate the challenges many Australians face every day. Many factors contribute to food insecurity in the country and all too often put the most vulnerable at risk. However, programs such as Close the Gap and the work of nonprofit organizations illustrate how the country is taking powerful steps to end hunger in Australia.

– Nicholas Bykov 
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in GuamGuam is a small island and a U.S. territory located southeast of Japan with a small population of about 163,000 people. Because of the small population, hunger in Guam has a much higher impact. Thankfully, things are looking up for Guam as rising employment rates and school programs are helping the hunger situation in Guam.

One of the more impactful programs in Guam that is fighting the hunger situation is that all 26 elementary schools in Guam serve meals for free. This free meal plan is provided through the federally funded Community Eligibility Provision grant that is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

This program feeds elementary students so they are focused and ready to participate in classes by giving them the nutrition they need. Some middle and high schools are also participating in the free meal program. The First Lady of Guam, Christine Calvo, wants to stamp out child hunger in Guam by expanding this program to all schools.

With unemployment, food insecurity becomes an issue. Food insecurity is when people are without reliable access to affordable or nutritious food. Unfortunately, people need to spend money to eat, and if people are unemployed, they cannot do so.

However, Guam has decreased its unemployment rate quite drastically. From June 2015 to June 2016, the unemployment rate in Guam dropped from 8.7 percent to 3.9 percent, a 55 percent decrease in unemployment. Because of this decrease, food insecurity has become less of an issue and more people know where their next meal is coming from.

Although hunger in Guam used to be a major issue, solutions are being implemented to help those in the country. Implementing free meal programs in schools and decreasing unemployment are important steps to alleviating hunger in Guam. If the free meal program expands to all schools and the unemployment rate continues to drop, hunger could become a thing of the past for the people of Guam.

Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr

How Feed Projects Reduces World Hunger
Malnutrition is a devastating reality for 805 million people around the world. Often a result of extreme poverty, hunger makes people more susceptible to illness and disease, stunting mental and physical development. It is the greatest risk to health.

Lauren Bush Lauren founded Feed Projects in 2007 after seeing the negative implications of malnutrition as an Honorary Spokesperson for the World Food Programme (WFP). During her travels with WFP, Lauren noticed that child hunger was best alleviated by school meals; not every school, however, could provide food for its students.

A free, nutritious school lunch has the power to break the cycle of poverty by making food easily accessible to children. It is Feed’s goal to provide meals for as many undernourished children around the world as possible.

As an online shopping platform, Feed primarily sells totes and bags but produces t-shirts and accessories as well. For every product sold, meals are donated, where the amount of meals provided depends on the price of the product sold. For example, the Feed Kenya bag sells for $250 and provides 370 school meals for children in Kenya. The Feed 1 bag is $80 and provides 185 meals.

All of Feed’s products are made under fair-trade regulations and with environment-safe materials. Additionally, the organization has built professional relationships in Columbia, Guatemala, Haiti, India and Kenya, providing job opportunities and sustainable livelihoods to developing communities.

Feed then sells the artisan-made products and gives meals back to those countries where the products were made. Feed provides food relief in 63 countries in total.

Lauren fully understands that world hunger is solvable and Feed does everything in their power to ensure that children are being fed. By providing meals for children in school, Feed also ensures that kids are attending school and receiving the proper nutrition to perform well. In other words, Feed works to eliminate world hunger and increase global education.

So far, Feed has provided 87,649,628 meals to children around the world. But it does not end there; in addition to school meals, Feed also provides micronutrients, mother-child nutrition, food aid in the U.S., emergency food aid and Vitamin A.

Plus, they encourage childhood education. Feed is working in big ways to eliminate world hunger and alleviate global poverty, bringing nutritious meals to children in need.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Feed Projects 1, Feed Projects 2
Photo: Google Images

new_zealandThe Tribal Huk gang of Ngaruawahia, in New Zealand, has been working for the last four years to help feed the country’s poor children. Every day, the gang has been making and delivering sandwiches to thirty-one schools in the area and putting food in more than four hundred hungry children’s mouths.

Jamie Pink, the president of the organization, called Kai 4 the Future, knows what it is like to grow up in poverty. As a child, he barely ever had enough food for himself. When he grew to be an adult, he knew he wanted to do something about it. Although he does admit he likes violence, he says he liked helping people even more.

Now, Tribal Huk leases fifty acres of farmland around Horotiu and Ngaruawahia, and owns dozens of beef, sheep and pigs. Some animals are sold to finance the foundation while the rest go in the sandwiches.

In New Zealand, 270,000 children live below the poverty line, according to the country’s Children’s Commissioner. Although the government has implemented a $9.5 million program in the last couple of years to help solve the problem, children remain hungry.

Pink laments that New Zealand has enough water, food and other resources- sheep even outnumber people ten to one- to support their population, but children are still going hungry. He hopes to get government assistance so the gang can make even more sandwiches every day.

He is also hoping to start a new trust in which people donate just $5 a week to the Foundation. If 50,000 people pay this amount for a year, they would collect $30 million – enough to feed every hungry child in the country.

Radhika Singh

Sources: Stuff, RadioNZ
Photo: Stuff

Attending School = Having Food in Egypt
In June 2015, the European Union funded a project for the World Food Programme (WFP) that encourages 100,000 children in Egypt to attend school.

The four-year project, called Enhancing Access of Children to Education and Fighting Child Labour aims to offer children, especially girls, incentives to pursue education.

Fifteen percent of children in Egypt eventually end up working to help support their families. The WFP’s goal of feeding children in Egypt to boost attendance rates involves providing snacks and take-home rations for children who maintain an 80 percent school attendance rate.

The daily in-school snack, date bars, offers valuable vitamins and minerals for students. For most children, the bars are their first meal of the day. The take-home rations of rice and oil equal the value of what children could earn from a month of work.

By using food incentives, WFP hopes to encourage parents to send children to school instead of out to work. In addition, they hope to break the patriarchal idea where young girls are solely expected to stay home and be married.

“The concept they have is the girl is going to get married and stay home, so if they need to get one of their children educated, they’re going to focus on the boys. With our project, we focus on the girls because we feel we are their chance to get an education,” says Amina Al Korey, communications officer for WFP in Egypt.

The girls get first priority registering for the community schools supported by the WFP and supervised by the Egyptian Ministry of Education. Boys can be admitted but only if spots still remain.

Larry Summers, former World Bank chief economist says, “Investment in girls’ education may well be the highest-return investment available in the developing world.”

Girls who attend school will make up to 25 percent more in wages in the future, be healthier and more capable of supporting a family, and could even save malnourished children, simply by being given a secondary education.

Al Korey says, “Whenever I speak to the girls, they’re always just so enthusiastic about actually going to school. They don’t just feel good about getting an education and getting a chance to take a different path.”

WFP also plans to support mothers with income-generating projects, such as breeding goats, making soaps and selling and growing vegetables.

Lubna Alaman, WFP’s representative and county director in Egypt, says, “Through partnerships like this, WFP hopes to make a child’s simplest dream come true.”

At the conclusion of the four-year project, WFP hopes to see more girls excited about pursuing an education and bettering their future.

Kelsey Parrotte

Sources: Takepart, WFP
Photo: Flickr

The childhood hunger epidemic is so severe in Liberia that one child dies of malnourishment every 12 seconds. When Todd Grinnell, Ryan Devlin and Ravi Patel visited Liberia, they were heartbroken by the poverty they encountered. Upon their return, they knew they had to take action. They created a healthy, nutritious fruit and nut bar with the “buy one, give one” mentality that has successfully provided other goods to the unfortunate across the globe.

With the purchase of this new snack, a nutritional bar by the name of “This Bar Saves Lives,” a child in need receives an identical food bar, jam-packed with all of the nutrients required to nurse them back to health. “This Bar Saves Lives” has attracted the attention of A-list celebrities like Kristen Bell. The celebrity endorsement and subsequent promotional video released by Bell has attracted mainstream attention to not only the product but also the horrible reality that is child hunger and malnutrition.

Bell is the latest investor and endorsement the company has received this year. Since its founding, Grinnell, Devlin and Patel have made a variety of appearances at highly publicized events to promote the bar, Comic-Con being one of them. They have also partnered with several companies such as Edesia Global Nutrition Solutions, Whole Foods Market, GOOD Inc., Mending Kids International, Kashi Company, The Strongheart Group and Kiss My Face.

Since 2013, 528,940 packets of bars have been sent to children in need. The co-founders of “This Bar Saves Lives” hope that by the end of this year, the company will sell one million bars, giving the helpless around the world another chance at life and nutrition.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Look to the Stars, This Bar Saves Lives 1, This Bar Saves Lives 2, This Bar Saves Lives 3
Photo: CNN

In the August/September 2015 issue of AARP The Magazine, Viola Davis of ABC’s hit series, “How to Get Away with Murder,” talks about growing up in poverty and why giving back is important to her.

Now the star of a drama that has 9 million viewers on the edge of their seats, Davis said she is living her dream by just being able to afford a house. “When you grow up poor, you dream of just having a home and a bed that’s clean — that’s a sanctuary,” Davis said.

In her interview with AARP, the actress said that she grew up in a household with five siblings in an old building in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Her mother worked in a factory and her father groomed racehorses. “But grooms don’t make money,” Davis said. “Definitely not enough to feed a family of eight.”

Her family received food stamps that paid for groceries which did not last the entire month. Occasionally, Davis had to resort to garbage dumps for scraps and sometimes she had to steal from a store. When she was caught, she felt so ashamed that she forced herself to stop. Davis then had to count on other means to eat.

“Most of the time, the school lunch was the only meal I had. I would befriend kids whose mothers cooked three meals a day and go to their homes when I could,” Davis said.

The summers were difficult because she did not have school to feed her, but the winters were not much easier. The pipes in the building where she lived sometimes froze over, so the family did not have water to clean with or drink. The furnace broke, and the family would have to use each other’s body heat to stay warm.

Despite her hunger and unstable home life, Davis performed well in school. She and her siblings wanted to make sure they did not live in those conditions in the future.

“School was their haven,” Sara Davidson, AARP The Magazine writer, said. “And they stayed late, participating in sports, music, drama and student government.”

School was not only Davis’ means for nourishment but also where she found her calling. She entered the Upward Bound program, which funded her education at Rhode Island College. After graduating, she attended Juilliard for their drama program.

Continuing in her success, Davis won two Tony awards and later received two Oscar nominations.

Though it seemed as if Davis’ rise to fame was only increasing, she still had her doubts about being cast in a lead role. In her childhood years, she had experienced racism every day.

“People would throw things out of their cars and call us the N-word,” Davis said.

Because of this, she thought she was too dark-skinned to earn a big part in a Hollywood movie. “That notion was upended when, in 2014, she was offered the starring role in How to Get Away with Murder,” Davidson said.

In addition, although Davis was more than pleased with her life as a professional actress, wife and mother, she yearned for something more. She was asked to be the spokesperson for Hunger Is, and now she is dedicated to giving back.

Hunger Is was formed by the Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation. The campaign seeks to end childhood hunger. With her own experience in the matter, Davis gave a touching speech about her childhood struggles. The two non-profits then donated $100,000 to the causes of her choice.

Davis divided this contribution between many organizations in her hometown including Central Falls High School’s Thespian Society.

Helping kids achieve their dreams, or even getting them meals, has brought Davis more happiness than acting. Although she had a difficult childhood, Davis is still looking up.

“There’s buoyancy and lightness in me. I’m not angry about my life. I’m not bitter at all. I’m happy,” Davis said.

To read more about Davis’ interview, visit the AARP website.

– Fallon Lineberger

Sources: AARP, Entertainment Weekly, Hunger Is
Photo: Flickr