October 16, 2012

World Food Day

"We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist one third rich and two-thirds hungry." - Jimmy Carter

It's World Food Day!

World Food Day was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a part of the United Nations, in 1979 to heighten public awareness of both poverty and the world food crisis. Each year more than 150 countries take part of this global observance to help strengthen our solidarity in the struggle against malnutrition and to eradicate hunger within our lifetime. For more information, check out the World Food Day website.

That being said, sometimes I think it's easier for us to choose to "feel small" against such overwhelmingly enormous issues like this. Someone else - somewhere else - with more money, or more connections, or more time can do more than we ever could, right?

Well, today I'm asking you to feel anything but small... feel empowered, feel important, feel like you - "little" you - can make a huge difference.

Because you can.

1. Give non-perishable food items to local food banks. In the past, I used to wonder about food and clothing drives... do real people actually get the items that other people give? The answer is YES. I spent a summer working at a food bank, and I can tell you firsthand that there are so many people in our own neighborhoods that are starving. That brown bag of canned and boxed goods you put together does and means so much to a family in need - whether that's a humble family of refugees who made it safely out of Africa and are literally starting over again here in the States, or (and I saw this a lot) proud, local farmers that are used to providing for themselves that have lost their land/fallen on hard times for whatever reason. What you give - whatever you give - really does make a world of difference.

2. Have you ever thought about microloans? Kiva connects thousands of people to borrowers and partner institutions around the world, working together to create opportunity and alleviate poverty. And it's so easy to do: you lend $25 to someone. Overtime, you get periodic updates about the progress of your loan, including repayments as they become available. When it has in full, you can either withdraw the money back for your personal use or re-donate it to someone else. A few years ago I loaned $25 to a group of cattle herders in Peru. Since then I've "recycled" that same $25 four separate times, loaning it to Shirmammad (a cattle herder in Azerbaijan), Santos (a farmer in Nicaragua), Judith (a farmer in Peru), and currently to Bernard (a farmer in Kenya). Kiva lets you choose the borrower and there are people in need in every sector: education, manufacturing, clothing... but today, maybe you could sacrifice just ONE DINNER OUT and give that money to someone in the agriculture or food sector. That's how we're going to help end world hunger - by endorsing grassroots efforts. Just think about how many lives you can touch - over and over and over again - with just $25. Loaning to Kiva was seriously one of the best things I've ever done in my twenties, and I'm proud that my family also now participates.

Here's to a productive World Food Day that brings us one step closer to... being full.

Happy World Food Day!