In the spring of 2008, massive shocks to the world food markets highlighted shortages and inequities in food availability and distribution. As a result, more people worldwide are experiencing chronic hunger. This situation is pushing vulnerable people into riskier actions and livelihoods in order to survive and provide food for their families.
World Vision is working to enhance the work already under way to address the critical short- and long-term food needs of children, families, and communities. The factors contributing to rising food prices include the following:
When food supplies are low, children are always the most vulnerable. The statistics are overwhelming:
Even if a child does not die directly from starvation, malnutrition makes children more prone to — and likely to die from — illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and measles. The current crisis is exacerbating an already unacceptable situation. Increases in food prices could push another 100 million people deeper into poverty; 35 million of them will be children.
Even a small increase in food prices hits the poor hard. The poorest people in developing countries can spend up to 75 percent of their income on food, leaving little left for things like education and health care. While the world produces more than enough to feed its entire population of some 6.5 billion, more than 850 million people go hungry every day. This is a grave injustice, and we can no longer claim ignorance to the plight of our brothers and sisters around the world. (Sources: Malaria and Children: Progress Intervention Coverage, UNICEF, 2007; Nutrition for Health and Development, WHO, 2007; State of the World’s Children, UNICEF, 2008; and The World Bank.)
With the current economic turmoil, people may turn away from giving. When money is tight, it is hard to care about the suffering of those living so far away. You may be struggling to make ends meet yourself. But do you ever wonder if you will have food to eat tomorrow? Have you ever tried to survive on just one meal every few days? Can you imagine watching your child starve to death?
The truth is that although there is a great deal of suffering in America, we rarely experience true starvation. There are so many safety nets in the form of shelters, food stamps, soup kitchens, etc. Very few of us know what it is like to be completely dependent on our own crops and have to watch our children suffer when the rainfall is scarce or the land fails to produce.
As we begin this Lent season, it is important to remember that we do not give things up for the sake of tradition, ritual, or guilt. We give up so that we may be free to give. We may choose to give up watching TV so that we can use the time saved to tutor kids, or we may give up buying clothes so we can put the money toward helping someone. Part of the sacrifice is often giving our attention to God. When we let go of the things that consume our thoughts and time, we are freed to turn our thoughts toward God. The hope is that as we begin to loosen our grip on our “stuff” and turn our attention toward God, we will be open to sharing more and loving more.
Find out how you can truly learn to hunger for God more this Lent by downloading the free six-week Lenten study entitled A Call to Live. You can work through it alone, with your weekly small group or download the study especially aimed toward young people called The Luxury Tax Initiative Live.