Hunger in TaiwanTaiwan is an independent island nation off the coast of mainland China. The democratic nation of Taiwan has struggled since gaining its independence in 1949 with a political divide over its sovereignty as its economy remains dependent on an already strained connection to China. With a population of over 23.7 million and only 1.5% living in poverty, Taiwan’s GNI per capita is estimated to be over $29,500. While hunger in Taiwan only affects a minuscule proportion of the population, the small country has taken impressive steps in alleviating global hunger, while implementing food waste and distribution solutions to assist its citizens facing hunger.

Taiwan’s Supply Chain

As an isolated island with the average citizen wealthy enough to make selective consumption choices, Taiwan’s food supply chain relies heavily on imported goods. In 2018, Taiwan imported $4 billion in agricultural goods. Taiwan’s food self-sufficiency rate is estimated to be only 30%. The Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, has committed to raising the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate to 40% during her term. Ing-wen and other government officials are working in conjunction with Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture to promote the consumption of domestically produced food and to bolster food stockpiles, which already contain 28 months’ worth of essential food items.

Food Waste

Taiwan produces an estimated 16.5 million tons of food waste. Taiwan implemented a fee on all other forms of waste and recyclables almost 20 years ago but has no fee for food waste. With Taiwan’s urban population booming and arable farmland declining in availability, the environmental, national security and economic costs of food waste have risen to the top of the political agenda. Taiwan plans to build several anaerobic biological treatment centers for food waste in the coming years and privatizing the food waste economy to create financial incentives for companies, yet these steps are only the start of a much needed long-term solution.

Domestic Hunger Relief

Data from Taiwan’s 2018 National Agricultural Congress showed that 1.8 million Taiwanese are underfed or lack food security. Despite a poverty rate of under 2%, hunger in Taiwan affects 7.8% of the population. In 2007, that percentage was only 3.6%. The rapid increase sparked government initiatives to reduce hunger in Taiwan. In 2019 alone, the government announced a nationally-funded food bank’s opening, expanded healthcare for agricultural workers, passed The Agricultural Wholesale Market Management Regulation and the Food Administration Act. The new resources and legislature aim to stabilize food prices, protect rural populations and improve data collection of the relationship between food waste and hunger in Taiwan.

Global Hunger Relief

In addition to taking steps to minimize hunger in Taiwan, its government has emerged as a strong contributor to providing global hunger aid and solutions. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides hunger relief through programs funded by it’s International Cooperation and Development Fund. Through this funding, Taiwan supports The Horticulture Project in the Marshall Islands, which promotes agricultural education development. Taiwan also worked with Action against Hunger in 2019 to improve refugee living conditions in parts of Asia and Africa, improving food accessibility for over 12,000 refugees. That same year, Taiwan launched rice donation programs to supply almost 10,000 tons of rice in Jordan, Mongolia, Namibia, Guatemala and South Africa.

Moving forward, as its government pledges to address hunger in Taiwan, perhaps even stronger efforts can be made by the Taiwanese to reduce global hunger. While Taiwan grapples with innovative approaches to reducing food waste and alleviating domestic hunger, it continues to set precedent for global hunger relief efforts.

Caledonia Strelow
Photo: Flickr

The World Food Program (WFP) is the world’s largest organization dedicated to fighting hunger and promoting food security. As a branch of the U.N. the WFP is funded solely through voluntary donations which allow the organization to reach around 80 million people annually in 80 countries.

Though the WFP has a strong impact on the battle against world hunger, over 795 million people remain undernourished globally. Often people in developing countries become undernourished when faced with external factors like natural disasters or political instability. These factors can cause entire communities to lose access to necessities like food and water.

Currently, southern Africa is experiencing drought due to the year’s El Nino weather pattern — it is believed that Malawi was hit the hardest of the countries affected. The drought coupled with severe flash floods has devastated the country’s crops.

Up to 40 percent of the population of Malawi may need emergency assistance. In an attempt to provide food relief to vulnerable populations like those in Malawi, the WFP created an app called ShareTheMeal.

ShareTheMeal allows users to help those in need with the touch of a button. By choosing to share a meal, users donate 50 cents, the cost to feed one child for one day, to school children in Malawi. Of course, more than one meal can be donated at a time, but allowing users to donate as little as 50 cents makes food relief an affordable act for all.

At this time, WFP is focusing ShareTheMeal towards food relief in Malawi, but the app has been used to help several other vulnerable communities since its inception in the summer of 2015. In fact, the ShareTheMeal website states that donations on the app have provided over 7.5 million meals to those in need.

Recently, between June and July of 2016, all donations on the app went to feeding Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. The donations from those two months were enough to provide one year worth of food to 1,500 children.

While these numbers may seem impressive, the WFP is setting the bar even higher for relief in Malawi. Through ShareTheMeal, the WFP’s goal is to provide 58,000 school children with food for an entire year. If the goal is reached, those 58,000 children will have better chances of staying in school and learning the essential skills that could one day lift them out of poverty.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

World Hunger ReliefAlthough it might seem logical to believe that world hunger can be solved by increased food production, top research shows that lack of food is not the major factor contributing to world hunger. In its new report “Farming for the Future: Organic and Agroecological Solutions to Feed the World,” Friends of the Earth reports that world hunger is primarily influenced by the economic and social factors that prevent people from accessing food.

The global network Friends of the Earth advocates for a healthier world by focusing on the economic factors that contribute to environmental degradation. Its report presents four decades of research about sustainable farming techniques that preserve natural resources. The report claims this form of agriculture, called agroecological farming, is the best way to combat the environmental problems that threaten global food security.

Here are the report’s three myths about farming and how argoecological methods can provide world hunger relief.

1. Increased food production will help feed more people.

Farmers already produce enough food to feed about 10 billion people, which is far more than the 7.3 billion who currently live on the planet. Much of this food is wasted or used for purposes besides feeding the impoverished.

Many crops are used for feeding livestock and for biofuels, which limits space for crops that go to feeding the impoverished. Because of this, the report suggests that better farming techniques, reductions in global food waste and consumers shifting to plant-based foods will provide world hunger relief.

Also, smallholders make up about 90 percent of farmers worldwide and produce about 80 percent of food for developing countries. Even so, they are often impoverished due to increasing corporate control and low crop prices. The report calls for public investments in these farmers and better policies to pull them out of poverty.

2. Organic farming cannot feed the entire human population.

According to the report, organic farming is an agroecological farming technique that can make plants more resilient to climate change than plants grown industrially.

The report cites a UC Berkeley study which found that depending on the crop and technique, organic farming systems can produce as much or more crops than conventional techniques, increase profits for farmers, and reduce water toxicity due to the use of less synthetic chemicals. Organic methods also provide low-income farmers with more accessible farming techniques and more job opportunities in their communities.

3. Industrial farming is more efficient in providing world hunger relief than organic methods.

When calculating efficiency based upon health, social, and environmental devastation, industrial methods are not more efficient than organic methods.

“Rather than feeding the world sustainably into the future, the industrial food system is cutting off the branch we’re sitting on by degrading the ecosystem functions we rely on to produce food,” the report states. Although the calorie and economic efficiency of industrial methods might be higher, conventional farming methods destroy the environment and threaten food security for the future.

Since agroecological farming methods cut down on environmental damage costs and improve incomes for farmers, the report presses for policy makers to invest in low-income farmers who use organic methods. It also warns that large-scale trade deals can indebt farmers through input-intensive farming.

Similarly, genetically engineered (GE) farming systems restrict farmers to expensive contracts. Most GE foods go to livestock feed and biofuels instead of to the impoverished. For these reasons, agroecological farming methods are better suited to support small farmers and provide world hunger relief.

Hopefully global policy makers and leaders will consider some of the arguments that Friends of the Earth lays out in its new report in order to help solve world hunger in more environmentally responsible ways.

Addie Pazzynski

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Pakistan: Fighting A Continual Uphill Battle
According to a  2016 report published by the World Food Programme (WFP), Pakistan produces enough food to feed all its citizens, yet, six out of 10 Pakistanis are food insecure. The worst off are women and children under the age of five, nearly half of whom are malnourished.

A tragic manifestation of this statistic is in the Tharpakar district of Pakistan. Within the first fortnight of 2016, 55 children in this region died as a result of malnutrition, pneumonia and other preventable diseases. Further, at least 650 children have died of the same causes over the last three years.These chilling figures bear more than a cursory investigation.

The International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) food security portal cites the main cause of widespread hunger in Pakistan as “a combination of militant activity, natural disaster[s], and economic instability”. These factors are particularly devastating in a country where the agricultural sector employs almost half the workforce and contributes over a fifth of total GDP.

The destruction caused by the 2010 floods in the Indus river basin bear testament to the catastrophic nature of the aforementioned elements. According to the WFP, the floods left almost 20 million people without access to food, which damaged the country’s agricultural sector. Bloomberg estimates that  sugar, wheat and rice crop worth $2.9 billion were ruined within three months of the flooding. Massive inflation and unemployment caused by militant activities in the region worsened the impact of their destruction.

What can be done for those who suffer the consequences of such devastation? What can be done for the children of Tharpakar, Pakistan?

Government acknowledgment of inaccessibility and insecurity plays a huge role in, at the very least, creating a starting point from which larger policy changes can be affected. Unfortunately, this seems to be a far-fetched goal. According to the Sri Lankan Guardian “Two provincial ministers who visited [Tharpakar] blamed underage marriages and carelessness of mothers for the child deaths…Despite print, electronic and foreign media all reporting the same child death statistics, the government continues to deny the figures.”

Therefore, raising awareness about the problem both in Pakistan as well as on a global level to pressure the government to be more proactive becomes incredibly important. The WFP is playing their part by releasing statistics to be shared on Twitter and other social media sites. In addition, WFP also partners with the Pakistani government in assisting malnourished children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, helping over 3.6 million people as of April 2016 through endeavors such as providing staple foods in schools across Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) agencies.

An early warning system for disasters such as the flood and subsequent earthquakes in the region would be a huge step forward in ensuring that stored crops are protected from their impact, which would help to combat hunger in Pakistan. And, taking a page from neighbor India’s book, passing a food security bill intended at providing vulnerable populations with subsidized grains could also help reduce malnourishment and insecurity, particularly among children and mothers.

While prospects for improving the situation in Pakistan have looked bleak in the past, NGOs such as Thali, Micro Nutrient Initiative and Action Against Hunger in partnership with the WFP, are making strides in reducing hunger in Pakistan. For the children of Tharpakar, even these baby steps are huge leaps into a healthier future.

Mallika Khanna

Photo: Flickr

Derrick Walton knows what it feels like to be homeless, sleep in abandoned cars and not have enough, if anything, to eat. Therefore, when he established Chef D’s Rock Power Pizza in January 2014 in Des Moines, Iowa, he pledged to shut down his restaurant once a week to help in feeding the homeless.
“I made a promise that if I ever got in a position where I could help somebody, I would give something back,” Walton told Yahoo’s Good News blog.

Although Walton can’t really afford to close his restaurant one night a week, he continues to do so to make sure anyone who needs food can get it – for free.

On April 2, 2014, Walton was invited on the Ellen Degeneres Show and she gave him $10,000 for his cause. Ellen has been partnering with Bank of America to highlight people who give back to their communities. When she heard of Walton, she was touched by his story and wanted to help him get the word out about his restaurant.

Walton grew up in Detroit in a household of eight kids and he learned to cook from his mother. After going to culinary school, Walton said he made some bad choices that landed him homeless.

“It put me in a position where I needed help from others, but the doors were always closed,” he recalls. “I made a promise that if I ever got in a position where I could help somebody, I would give something back.”

After saving up money from a dish washing job and later a line cook, Walton was able to open Chef D’s Pizza. And now, the $10,000 check from Ellen will help him continue to be able to keep his doors open for the homeless on Monday nights.

Iowa is home to almost 3,000 homeless people. The state has a poverty rate of 12.7%. With poverty often comes food insecurity and Walton is doing a small part to alleviate hunger in the homeless population of Des Moines.

– Haley Sklut

Sources: Ellen, The Huffington Post, Yahoo, Spotlight on Poverty
Photo: LiftBump

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