Opinion

World Food Day 2018: ‘Can I really make a difference? Said 7.6 billion people’

On World Food Day 2018, we reflect on what you can do in your daily life to help achieve Zero Hunger by 2030, including waste less food, get involved in and support initiatives, eat less or no meat and continue to talk about chronic hunger.

Photo by Dylan de Jonge. Sourced via Unsplash.

This year’s World Food Day is on the 16th October. Each year, WFD highlights the need for increased global action to end hunger, as chronic hunger and malnutrition are on the rise. This year’s theme is ‘Our actions are our future’ and promotes that a Zero Hunger world by 2030 is possible.1

In 2018, globally, 821 million people (1 in 9) suffer from chronic hunger, and 672 million people are obese, which demonstrates the uneven distribution of food and highlights the complexity of our relationship with our food and food systems.

As many of the readers of the Sydney Environment Institute’s blog would be aware, with increasing climate change, inequality and conflict, food insecurity worsens. In fact, the shocking truth is that despite a previous steady decline, world hunger is on the rise, with an increase of 38 million people from 2015 to 2016.2

The news that world hunger is on the rise again is shocking. However, we can be motivated by the fact that as a global community, we have previously achieved a huge reduction, meaning we CAN do it again! Here are the things you can do in your daily life to help achieve Zero Hunger.3

Waste less

The world produces enough food for everyone on this planet. You can eat or freeze your leftovers, plan your meals and get take away when you are unable to finish your meal at a restaurant.

You can also compost your food waste. This website helps you know which compost system to get based on your living set up, even if you’re living in an apartment!

Get Involved in and Support Initiatives

Charities step up when governments do not adequately act.4 There are some great Australian initiatives you can support financially and give your time to! All the organisations below are always looking for volunteers.

My favourite organisation in the food security space in Australia is the Youth Food Movement; I encourage you to get involved. They are always running interesting and diverse campaigns to help educate young people about food to be healthy and sustainable.

The FoodBank is a non-profit organisation which acts as a pantry to the charities and community groups who feed the hungry, connecting the food industry’s surplus food with the welfare sector. Ozharvest collects quality excess foods and delivers it to charities and community organisations. They are always in search of food, donations and even your time!

The Australian Right to Food Coalition aims to improve the health and well-being of all Australians by working to ensure equitable access to nutritious food. The Hunger Project Australia is working to break the cycle of poverty through unleashing “people’s creativity and leadership so they can end their own hunger”.5 World Vision provides food and resources for those with immediate needs and raises funds to support this work.

Eat less or no meat

A meat diet requires a significantly greater use of natural resources, water and land than a vegetarian diet. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain to feed the animal and 15,000 litres of water. The land that is used for livestock farming, and the growing of grains to the feed the livestock can often be used instead for other food production.6

Also, given livestock farming contributes 18% of all human-produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, therefore contributing to climate change. Climate change is exacerbating social inequality and poverty, which is, in turn, contributing to chronic hunger.7

Be a conscious consumer: Pick the ugly vegetables, support local food producers like from local markets, small businesses or if you can, directly from the farmer.

Talk about it

You’ll never know who you will inspire! World Food Day is the perfect time to start conversations with people around you about food security and food waste. There are millions of people that suffer from chronic hunger; we need to keep that message alive to encourage people to act. Spread the word, so that they can reduce their impact, as well as be more conscious in an upcoming election to vote for a leader that is committed to poverty, food security and climate change.

For more information, the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations has a collection of videos about World Food Day, including some beautiful short documentaries on food security in Turkey, Egypt and the Philippines. See the videos here.

I want to end with a slogan I reflect on when I feel that my individual actions will not make a difference:

‘Can I really make a difference? Said 7.6 billion people’.

We have previously reduced global chronic hunger, so we can do it again.

References

1. United Nation Food and Agriculture Organization. (2018). World Food Day [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here
2. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (2018). Sustainable Development Goals Report 2018 – Goal 2: world hunger [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here. 
3. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. (2018). Zero Hunger Actions [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here
4. Carol Richards. (2018). Hunger in the lucky country – charities step in where government fails [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here
5. The Hunger Project Australia. (2018). About Us – The Hunger Project Australia [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here.
6. Francis Vergunst. (2018). ‘Five ways the meat on your plate is killing the planet’. The Conversation [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here.
7. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. (2018). Livestock a major threat to environment [Accessed 12 October 2018]. Access here.


Alice Simpson-Young is a 2018 Honours Research Fellow with the Sydney Environment Institute. She has a Bachelors of Science, and Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Environmental Studies and Government and International Relations from the University of Sydney and is currently undertaking Honours in the Department of Government and International Relations. Alice’s research aims to explore Sydney and Melbourne’s Resilience Strategies, to understand to what extent environmental justice, vulnerability and social resilience are incorporated.