Every day around the world, 850 million people are unable to obtain the adequate, nutritious food needed for sound health and growth. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United States, poor nutrition is also a leading cause of death among young children in developing countries.
On October 16 each year, the American Red Cross joins FAO to celebrate World Food Day as a chance for Americans and the international community to be part of the global fight against hunger.
This year’s World Food Day theme is “Investing in Agriculture for Food Security,” acknowledging the need for agriculture to become a key player in world economies to avoid the devastating effects that hunger can have on a community. FAO reports that foreign aid for agriculture has continued to decline and the situation will only be remedied with necessary funding as well as support from the education and health fields.
An elementary school student enjoys a package of soymilk, provided by the Red Cross. The Education and Child Nutrition Initiative in Vietnam provides nearly 51,000 students in rural elementary schools a daily package of soymilk and a biscuit fortified with Vitamin A, Vitamin D and calcium. (Photo Credit: American Red Cross)
The American Red Cross has been providing food and nutrition support to those in need both domestically and overseas for more than 110 years. Ange Tingbo, Senior Food Program Advisor for the American Red Cross, believes there needs to be an integrated approach when combating hunger.
“In order to establish long-term food security, it is necessary to also advocate prevention and preparation methods,” said Tingbo. “The efforts of the American Red Cross to invest in a community’s agricultural future will greatly increase their ability to prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters.”
By providing educational training in sanitation, nutrition, irrigation and cash for work programs, the American Red Cross works to lessen hunger in affected communities. Cash for work programs supported by the American Red Cross have contributed to the revitalization of agriculture for several tsunami-affected communities in Sri Lanka and Indonesia. These programs have focused on rehabilitating land as well as cleaning ditches, ponds and lagoons so that agricultural production can resume.
Currently, the American Red Cross is responding to floods in the Horn of Africa that have displaced over 300,000 people in Ethiopia and affected more than 90,000 people in Sudan. Donating $85,000 to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Socities’ (Federation) Ethiopia flood response appeal, the American Red Cross also deployed two delegates to coordinate the Federation response. In addition, the delegates worked with the Ethiopian Red Cross Society in procuring and distributing seed for local farmers to sow for next year’s harvest. In Sudan, the American Red Cross is providing 10,000 insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Two major school nutrition programs are also in progress. In partnership with the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), the Red Cross is working to feed people affected by the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Maldives through the provision and distribution of emergency food aid. WFP, the world’s largest international food organization, has the ability to quickly mobilize food aid and Red Cross funds are being used to support staff, warehousing and food distribution.
Another program in Vietnam works to provide food in schools to students as well as take-home food rations that serve as an incentive for students to attend school.
“Eighteen hundred Vietnamese school children receive nutritionally-fortified biscuits regularly, providing high levels of 14 essential vitamins and minerals, as well as fat and carbohydrates,” Tingbo said. “The biscuit programs are giving these malnourished children stronger bodies, sharper minds, a great reason to go to school and a chance at a better future.”
Issues of food insecurity are not only overseas, after the 2005 hurricane season, the world witnessed Americans going hungry. The American Red Cross distributed more than 68 million meals and snacks that hurricane season to survivors and emergency workers, enabling people to spend their time and resources recovering from the devastation.
World Food Day aims to raise awareness about those who live in a constant state of hunger all over the world.
You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.