Change priorities to end world hunger

Change priorities to end world hunger
I used to enjoy watching Emeril Lagasse's cooking show on The Food Network.

Lately though, I find him to be, well, a bit difficult to stomach.

He conducts his show in front of a live audience. He chops an onion, they applaud. He announces that he's going to "kick things up a notch," while throwing a pinch of spices into the food he's preparing, along with shouting "Bam!" � his trademark � and the crowd goes wild.

He not only demonstrates a superior attitude around food. He more or less wallows in his ability to create wonderful things to eat night after night.

One, no doubt, can pick up some handy tips from watching his show. But there are some things that are never mentioned.

Emeril never begins a discussion about how most of us in the United States are fighting a losing battle to NOT consume too many calories, while much of the world's population never gets enough to eat from day to day.

According to the Bread for the World Institute:

? 852 million people across the world are hungry, up from 842 million a year ago.

? Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes � one child every five seconds.

? In essence, hunger is the most extreme form of poverty, where individuals or families cannot afford to meet their most basic need for food.

? Hunger manifests itself in many ways other than starvation and famine. Most poor people who battle hunger deal with chronic undernourishment and vitamin or mineral deficiencies, which result in stunted growth, weakness and heightened susceptibility to illness.

? The United States is a part of the developed or industrialized world, which consists of about 50 countries with a combined population of only 0.9 billion, less than one sixth of the world's population. ? In contrast, approximately 5 billion people live in the developing world. This world is made up of about 125 low and middle-income countries in which people generally have a lower standard of living with access to fewer goods and services than people in high-income countries.

? In the developing world, more than 1.2 billion people currently live below the international poverty line, earning less than $1 per day.

? Among this group of poor people, many have problems obtaining adequate, nutritious food for themselves and their families. As a result, 815 million people in the developing world are undernourished. They consume less than the minimum amount of calories essential for sound health and growth.

? Undernourishment negatively affects people's health, productivity, sense of hope and overall well-being. A lack of food can stunt growth, slow thinking, sap energy, hinder fetal development and contribute to mental retardation.

? Countries in which a large portion of the population battles hunger daily are usually poor and often lack the social safety nets we enjoy, such as soup kitchens, food stamps, and job training programs. When a family that lives in a poor country cannot grow enough food or earn enough money to buy food, there is nowhere to turn for help.

The challenge seems insurmountable. Guess what? It isn't.

Bread for the World notes that we CAN end hunger. We have the means.

The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight. The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year.

What makes the difference between millions of hungry people and a world where all are fed? Only a change in priorities. Only the will to end hunger.

You may learn more by writing, calling or e-mailing: Bread for the World Institute, 50 F Street, NW, Suite 500 / Washington, DC 20001/USA. Telephone:

202-639-9400 / 800-82-BREAD / Fax 202-639-9401.

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