Campaign aims to end hunger

TOM Barbitta, chief marketing officer of Rise Against Hunger.

We all know that feeling of hunger. You feel a sense of hollowness or tightness in the stomach, followed by sounds of growling. After skipping a meal, some munch all day but never feel too full. There is that gnawing sense that the body’s needs have not been fully met. And that’s just for skipping a meal or two.

Imagine how you would feel if you starved every single day. Multiply that stabbing and gnawing pain in the stomach by a hundredfold, and that’s how people who lack access to food feel.

One in nine persons suffer from hunger; that’s about 795 million children, women and men that do not have enough food to eat. All over the world, the situation is worse where food is produced, mainly in rural areas.

Roughly 98 percent comes from the developing countries — 511 million in Asia and Pacific region, 232 million in Africa and the rest from other parts of the world. Five out of the eight countries with alarming situations of hunger are from Africa.

Jomar Flores, Rise Against Hunger Philippines executive director.

After numerous efforts and programs, the world has seen a decline in the number of people affected by hunger in the past years; however, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, there has been an increase of about 38 million more people than the previous year, largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts, compounded by the climate change and other factors.

The report was the first global assessment on food security and nutrition released after the adoption of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

In the joint foreword on the report, the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) stressed that some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones.

“Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature. This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end,” they said.

Hunger relief possible

Despite this bleak report, Rise Against Hunger, an international hunger relief non-profit organization that distributes food and life-changing aid to the world’s most vulnerable, believes that ending hunger by 2030 is possible.

The Rise Against Hunger launched the “This Is Possible” campaign in the Philippines, along with the “Beacons of Joy,” at the Conrad Hotel Manila. Outside the launch, hundreds of passersby witnessed the campaign video displayed at the Mall of Asia Globe.

“This Is Possible,” a global movement to end world hunger, was first launched in February 2018 in New York City, with thousands of people signed their pledges to end hunger. The campaign was created to build awareness and drive a global movement to end hunger by the year 2030. So far, the initiative has also been launched in Italy, Malaysia, India and South Africa.

In line with its 20th anniversary, the Beacons of Joy, meanwhile, aims to shine the light on those who have made extraordinary efforts in rising against hunger and bringing joy and relief to communities across the country.

RAH Philippines, led by its executive director Jomar Fleras, works to meet immediate nutritional needs today and empower the ability to build strong, resilient communities tomorrow. Since its inception, Rise Against Hunger Philippines has packaged over 252 million meals.

In 2014, Rise Against Hunger opened a dedicated location in the Philippines, following the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda. In 2018, the organization established the Good Food Grocer, the country’s first food bank sells nutritious food at discount prices, as well as distributes food to informal settlers and children in daycare centers.
The organization is committed to nourishing lives, providing emergency aid, empowering communities, and growing the hunger movement. Rise Against Hunger has facilitated meal packaging of more than 409 million meals to be distributed to countries around the world.
“Our mission is to end hunger in our lifetime, and the first real step is to activate a worldwide movement. It will take the help and support from the global community to accomplish this goal, but with participation, financial contribution, volunteerism and heart, each person can change the life of another and put an end to suffering from starvation,” said Rise Against Hunger chief marketing officer Tom Barbitta.

Proper distribution

More than just packaging and distributing nutritious meals, the organization aims to create sustainable food system through the Pathways to Hunger, following the UN Agenda.

“The global food production is sufficient to feed the world population, but it is not distributed properly due to various reasons. There’s war and conflicts, which displaces people from their homes and makes it impossible for them to cultivate food sources,” said Barbitta.

The world economic situation causes food prices to rise, preventing low-income families from buying food supplies. Global warming and environmental phenomena also drive the resurgence of hunger and malnutrition.

Even in regions that don’t suffer from political conflicts, hunger and malnutrition are prevalent. Droughts, floods, earthquakes and typhoons, among others resulted to food deprivation and insecurity among their peoples.

“Pathways to eliminate hunger include making our food system sustainable, which means creating an agricultural system that is sustainable and climate-compatible. It also requires diversified food production,” shared Fleras.

Movement to end rural poverty should be intensified. It involves increasing livelihood sources and creating employment opportunities in the rural areas.

Also, minimize food losses during production and wastage. There is a need to empower the consumers on their purchasing choices, while making retailers and producers to invest in sustainable production.

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