Hunger, we have all been there. When you feel irritable and cranky, with little energy, you may even feel nauseous. Your stomach feels empty, and you can’t concentrate on anything else. However, most of us are fortunate enough to eat after a short while and feel like new again.
But not everyone is always so fortunate.
According to UNICEF, approximately 3.1 million children die from undernutrition each year, making hunger and undernutrition one of the number one causes of child deaths globally.
Understanding Hunger and Malnutrition
It is not just to eat that matters; it is the quality of the nutrients and caloric intake sufficiency that make the difference.
Malnutrition is a broad term used to define poor nutrition. It can be classified into three different categories:
⦁ Undernutrition: caused by an inadequate consumption or deficiency of caloric consumption.
⦁ Micronutrient-related malnutrition caused by lack of vitamins or nutrients); and
⦁ Overnutrition: which can lead to obesity and diet-related diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.
When people are undernourished, it becomes harder for them to sustain growth, resist infections, and recover from a disease. They lack the energy to keep functioning. Undernutrition makes children in particular much more vulnerable to illness and death. Around 45% of child deaths – three million worldwide – are linked to undernutrition.
Thinking Caps On
Next time you go to the supermarket with your parents, pay attention to food labels. Have a look at the vitamins and nutrients available in everyday food items you can find at the supermarket. How can you determine which foods are more nutrient-dense? Have a look at this video to help you read food labels >>>
What’s for Dinner?
An estimated 26.4 per cent of the world population, about 2 billion persons, were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2018.
Food insecurity can be defined as the disruption of food intake or eating patterns due to a lack of money and other resources. Food insecurity may be long term or temporary. Food insecurity can be offset by a change in income or employment, by disability or even by race or ethnicity. The risk for food insecurity increases when money to buy food is limited or not available, which is why unemployment can negatively affect a household’s food security status.
According to HealthyPeople.gov, in 2004, 17.4 million U.S. households were food insecure at some time during the year.
In the United States, food assistance programs, such as the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), address barriers to accessing healthy food.
The United Nations World Food Program delivers over 4 million tons of food to nearly 100 million people each year in more than 80 countries.
Food Waste: Don’t Throw that Away Just Yet
Food waste refers to food that is served but not eaten, or it can also refer to food that is thrown away too soon. Sometimes we can repurpose food; for example, peels and rinds considered inedible can be used to feed animals or be composted rather than trashed.
Food Waste in Schools
There are many reasons why food is being wasted at school. From too much food being prepared and not served to food being thrown away uneaten because of portion sizes, taste, lack of time, poor dining experience or a combination of all these factors.
A new World Wildlife Fund report estimates U.S. school food waste totals 530,000 tons per year and costs as much as $9.7 million a day to manage. Imagine about 39.2 pounds of food waste and 19.4 gallons of milk thrown away per school per year*.
The food waste problem goes far beyond schools. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, about 40% of food made in the U.S. is wasted, resulting in a loss of $160 billion per year.
We can and should do better than that!
Thinking Caps On:
Districts across the country are seeking ways to eliminate food waste to save both money and the environment. For example, Sheridan Elementary School in Nebraska decided to tackle food waste by filling compost bins with 150 pounds of leftover food and reducing food waste/trash to only 18 pounds during about three weeks.
Those figures mean 90% of the school’s food waste was composted! How can you reduce food waste at home and at school? Create a plan to help reduce waste by implementing recycling techniques (hello arts and crafts using recycled materials) and food composting techniques. Or consider donating the extra food to a local food bank. Possibilities are endless.
How to Help: Short Term Solutions
⦁ Donate to your local food bank or food pantry.
⦁ Start a food drive.
⦁ Reduce Food Waste
How to Help: Long Term Solutions
⦁ Raising Farm Productivity – education, female farmers, fertilizers, low technology techniques
⦁ Crops for Human Consumption (not animals)
⦁ Fair Trade, when producers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their work by companies in developed countries.
Inspired? Read more:
Food Waste Solutions