“The True Solution to Global Hunger” is written by FeelGood volunteer Katy Mullins.
What comes to mind when you think of global hunger? When you think about the nearly 1.2 billion people around the world who live on less than $1.25 a day, what do you think of?
If you’re anything like me, the things that you think of when you imagine people living in conditions of chronic hunger are the images that are typically featured in the media. You envision situations of destruction, natural disaster, or other extreme circumstances that call for immediate relief on the part of anyone able to give.
Well, as it turns out, this isn’t accurate at all. Emergency situations contribute to “less than 8% of hunger’s victims,” which is only a fraction of the nearly 870 million people living in situations of chronic hunger and malnourishment.
Not really the image of disaster or ruin that we typically imagine, right?
So what is chronic hunger, really?
Chronic hunger, most often caused by extreme poverty, is when individuals do not have the means to properly nourish themselves to ensure they have healthy, productive lives.
This issue is a difficult one to talk about and difficult to relate to on a personal level. As someone who grew up in an affluent country, I know that personally understanding the struggle of somebody who is living in poverty is challenging. To bring the effects of global poverty home to those of us with enough to eat, we must think of it on an individual level, rather than a series of numbers and definitions.
Imagine that you are a female villager living in a rural community, and you are struggling to find enough food to sustain yourself and your family. Your children are not in school, because the girls have to stay home to help you maintain the house, and the boys have to walk several miles every day to access clean water. There are no jobs in your village, so your husband is far away in a distant city (or country) to work, and he sends back what money he can. You and your children are able to eat, but your diets are not well-rounded, and as a result, you and your children are malnourished, and all of your energy day-to-day goes into simply sustaining yourselves.
The way to effect a change in a long-term, systemic situation is through long-term empowerment, education, and partnership.
I volunteer for a non-profit called FeelGood, which works on college campuses across the country, making and giving away grilled cheese for donation. Our mission is simple: we seek to eradicate global poverty through raising money and awareness. FeelGood currently works with four other non-profits around the world (The Hunger Project, CHOICE Humanitarian, Pachamama Alliance, and Water for People), and while these organizations work in different countries, they share a common goal: to give people the opportunity to end their own hunger in a sustainable way, through education, partnership, and empowerment of local communities.
Imagine now that in your small village, you are offered an opportunity to partner with your local government and other leaders of your community to learn to build and maintain a water pump for your village. Imagine you earn a loan to buy livestock, which you then pay back with the money you earn from selling products. Imagine you can now sustainably farm culturally appropriate and relevant crops, without depleting the soil, to not only feed yourself but also to use as a resource. Or imagine you are given a loan to start a small business, or to work with local government to establish jobs in your area. Through education and partnership, not charity, you become equipped with the tools to end your own hunger.
An important thing to realize when discussing global poverty is that it is not an issue of us, from our comfortable lives, taking care of the world by giving charity to people in developing areas or simply supplying them with food. It is an issue of human dignity, and that we must think about our human family all over the globe.
When equipped with the proper resources, people in impoverished areas have the ability to end their own hunger. They are not lacking in desire or drive, but rather in access to opportunities. If we, in our busy and fast-paced American life, can think about the things we do in our own neighborhoods to support our fellow humans that don’t involve charity—for instance, buying sustainably sourced, locally farmed, organic food, which keeps sustainable farmers on their land—and apply that same compassionate thinking to our neighbors around the world who are striving for the same goals, we stand a true chance of eradicating global hunger and global poverty.
Organic Valley is committed to building a just and sustainable food system, and we are proud to support FeelGood in its efforts to eradicate global hunger through partnership and local empowerment.
Katy Mullins is an outdoor enthusiast, biker, and singer. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and currently attends the University of Pittsburgh, where she will be graduating with a degree in English and minors in education, music, and children’s literature. In her spare time, she volunteers for the national non-profit FeelGood, an organization dedicated to eradicating global poverty one grilled cheese at a time.