Why People are Still Hungry


Poverty and hunger are often accepted as issues that have little hope of going away completely because they are so widespread. In reality, however, it is quite the opposite. For example, the world produces more than enough food to feed everyone, which could, in turn, lead to dissolving global hunger and some aspects of global poverty.

The World Health Organization reported that between 2006 and 2008, there was enough food available to feed everyone in the world 2,790 calories each day. This amount increased from the 1960’s by 570 calories person/day.

The availability of food to those in poverty has decreased the percentage of chronically malnourished people from 34% in the 1970’s to 15% at the turn of the 21st century.

Despite this increase in available calories and decrease of impoverished people, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization found in studies from 2012 to 2014 that “805 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were [are] suffering from chronic undernourishment.”

Of that 805 million still undernourished people, 11 million reside in developed countries; however, the other 794 million people are from developing countries.

With enough food available to feed everyone, the question remains: why is the food not being distributed more equitably to those suffering from hunger and malnutrition?

A multitude of reasons go into why the food available is not reaching those who need it. The ability (or lack thereof) to mobilize the food is at the forefront. The cost of shipping food can greatly restrict its ability to be transported to areas in need. However, developed countries waste 222 million tons of food each year. That wasted food requires transportation to landfills. Rather than moving food to landfills, the money to move it could be directed to transporting it to people in need.

The 222 million tons of food wasted each year by developed countries is equal to “the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa,” according to World Environment Day. Making that wasted food available to those impoverished and hungry would drastically improve lives around the world.

A lack of healthcare and education also impacts the poverty rates around the world. Entering the 21st century with a billion people unable to read makes the possibility of rising out of poverty more difficult for individuals.

In a similar way, healthcare hinders the ability of individuals and families to rise out of poverty. When that individual or a family member is sick and unable to work and help the family, it makes feeding the family that much more difficult.

Food, education and healthcare all come back to one another in the world of poverty. As they each improve, it allows for people to worry less about where they are going to get their next meal. As long as food that could feed those in need is going to waste, and the healthcare and education the poor deserve is not being provided, poverty will continue to exist.

– Katherine Wyant

Sources: Global Issues, 2015 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics
Photo: Pearls of Profundity