What do you do when you feel pangs of hunger? The majority of those reading this article walk over the kitchen, open the refrigerator or cupboard and take out something delicious and nutritious to eat. 815 million – one out of nine – people do not have that luxury and are considered undernourished. Unsurprisingly, the second Sustainable Goal is to end hunger by 2025.
Ending hunger includes achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture. The good news is that over the past 20 years, the number of hungry people was reduced by half. The bad news is because of conflict, drought and climate disasters the number of hungry people has increased. In 2017, 151 million children under the age of five were under height for their age. 51 million suffered from wasting or low weight for their height. Will this continue to deteriorate due to climate change?
In 2017, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace helped approximately 69.4 million people in 53 countries. The United States is often the largest provider of food aid and in 2017, gave $3.6 billion for food. This seems like a lot of money; but, let’s put it in perspective. The United States Government has budgeted $590 billion for defense this year. Americans spent $60.59 billion on their pets in 2015. The 2016 presidential campaign cost at least $5 billion.
As a percent of GDP, however, U.S. aid spending ranks near the bottom of all developed countries. It accounts for 0.17 percent of GDP, twentieth out of twenty-eight countries measured by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom all spend more than 0.7 percent of GDP on foreign aid, which is the target set by the United Nations.
It may be hard to believe but there are hungry people in the U.S. also. In fact, 41 million Americans struggle with hunger. Unemployment, household assets, and demographics can make it difficult to get the nutritious food people need to thrive. Government programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provide help. These programs are under siege with this administration and in danger of being reduced.
So, next time you walk to the frig and grab a bite, remember those who are hungry, offer a quick prayer, and then call your senator and representative and urge them not to decrease food aid here or abroad.