by Anita Cheung
10! 9! 8! 7! 6! 5! 4! 3! 2! 1!! Happy New Year!!! The new year arrives amidst greetings from friends and loved ones, often accompanied by sumptuous meals and a few drinks and although we always know when it is coming, somehow its arrival often takes us by surprise. Then a few days pass by and January is well and truly underway and New Year’s resolutions become the focus of our attention. Nine times out of ten, those resolutions include less alcohol, less food and more exercise. But our resolutions are all about what we want and whether that is less food in general, less junk food or just better quality food, our resolutions are all about us having the power to decide how we want to change our lives in the coming year.
In many cultures gathering around food has become part of social customs and not just about eating for survival. In these gatherings, food is consumed, conversation flows, business takes place, anniversaries are celebrated and couples date, but I am absolutely certain that no-one present even gives one thought as to where the food comes from or even where the next meal is going to come from! Whether celebrating or eating at home, maintaining a diet that includes five fruits and vegetables a day has become a New Year’s resolution in the West for many whereas in less privileged countries this would seem to be not only a banquet, but also a dream. For most of us, there is little or no experience regarding not having enough to eat or being on the brink of starvation.
In 2015, the United Nations put together the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. All member states signed up to this agreement and at the heart of the Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which define the aims of the United Nations for every community and every country in the world. These 17 goals are further broken down into 169 targets, 3116 events and 5503 actions. The second goal on this list of 17 is ‘Zero Hunger’. According to the United Nations website, ‘After decades of steady decline, the number of people who suffer from hunger - as measured by the prevalence of undernourishment - began to slowly increase again in 2015. Current estimates show that nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9% of the world’s population - up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million people in five years. The world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. If recent trends continue, the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million people by 2030.’
Food. Nutrition. And a lack of for some 690 million people. Mindfulness and thankfulness when eating are all well and good, but good intentions and attitudes alone are not going to put food in the mouths of the hungry. Something more is needed and there are many committed people within a wide range of organizations working towards the goal of Zero Hunger. Here are just a few of those admirable charities working tirelessly to aid the disadvantaged and underprivileged both within the States and abroad.
Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization working within the United States. They have food banks all over the country and require volunteers and gift donations to continue providing the disadvantaged with food. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have been affected economically by the loss of their employment and in 2020 alone, over 60 million people turned to food banks and community programmes for aid. Find out more about this organization at www.feedingamerica.org
Working across Africa, South Asia and Latin America, The Hunger Project has touched 14,568 rural communities, used 47,758 local volunteers and reached 15,868,562 people. The Hunger Project is not only concerned with providing food where it is needed, but also works within nations and communities on the myriad of complex issues that lead to a lack of food and hunger. Other projects such as water and sanitation, agriculture and poverty are some of the issues that The Hunger Project tackles in order to bring lasting solutions to disadvantaged communities and poorer nations. Go to www.thp.org to find out more.
Founded in 1972 by Dr Larry Ward who formerly worked for World Vision, Food for the Hungry is an international organization dedicated to bringing food, water and aid to vulnerable people and disaster-struck communities around the globe. They seek sustainable solutions to the problems encountered in each place. They not only work alongside local leaders, but also partner with organizations such as The Global Fund, Unicef and the World Bank with the aim of aiding the poor, no matter the country. To find out more about the work that Food for the Hungry does, go to www.fh.org
The World Central Kitchen is an organization with a difference. Not only do they provide meals to communities impacted by natural disasters and humanitarian crises, but they also have training centers where volunteers can learn how to cook! Their priority is to respond with meals to those whose communities have been hit by tsunamis, earthquakes, man-made crises and humanitarian emergencies around the world. However, the World Central Kitchen also focuses their efforts in local projects such as working with 13 local restaurants in New York to provide 20,000 meals to frontline staff working tirelessly amid the surge of the Omicron and partner restaurants in Phoenix have begun to cook meals for Afghan refugees awaiting resettlement. Go to www.wck.org for more details.
Based in New York, WhyHunger is an organization that believes that nutritious food is a human right. They work to not only find solutions to hunger, but also invest in sustainable, grassroots solutions and training programmes that help community members grow their own food and share their knowledge with others. 90% of donations goes directly to their programmes and initiatives. There are plenty of opportunities to get involved! Go to www.whyhunger.org for more details.
Needless to say, these are just a few of the organizations that are working tirelessly to bring food and ongoing solutions to the poor and disadvantaged and there are many more to be found online and within our communities. Although the issue of feeding the world seems to be an overwhelming task, each action, each bowl of food, each dollar is one step closer to resolving the problem.
It is obvious that cultural traditions around the world surrounding the social function of food are not going to change in the near future. Meals are a time of unity, laughter, chatter, communication and business dealings and given the fact that we generally eat three times per day, they are the perfect moments to reconnect with our loved ones about the day’s events and challenges. Personally, I find a lot of pleasure in sharing a meal, glass of wine and tranquil moments of communication with my nearest and dearest, but I know that more often than not, there is too much food on the table and that we all keep eating when we were full a long time before! Obviously the answer to the dilemma lies in the ever-evasive words of ‘balance’ and ‘self-control’, but both of these always seem to be just one meal away… In the meantime, as much as the social events are not going to stop, I know that it doesn’t take much to set aside €5 or $5 out of the food budget to provide food for someone who doesn’t have enough to eat. And on that note - and although we are already at the end of January - all of us here at Loveyjoys want to wish you a wonderful 2022.