A basic necessity – food, sadly, is instead a luxury to millions of people across the world. The World Food Day, commemorated on October 16, to mark the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the year 1945, raises awareness about critical issues pertaining to hunger and poverty, placing a great emphasis on food security through its themes, which differ every year. In 2017, the theme for the day is ‘Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development’.
Food security is a concern for people across the world, particularly in conflict zones. Poverty-stricken population in developing countries are susceptible to food insecurity. Political instability and food insecurity form a mutually-sustaining loop that is difficult to break, leading to an endless cycle of poverty, malnutrition and hunger.
In India, food insecurity, coupled with issues like hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiency), complicate matters further. In August this year, news reports suggested that the Central Government had advised State Governments to ensure mandatory fortification of food items like wheat, edible oil and salt in mid-day meals for school children. Statistics of the 4th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) revealed that in nine of India’s States and Union Territories, less than one-third children were stunted, while in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya, more than 40% of children were found to be so. Over 50% of the children are anemic in 10 of the states and Union Territories.
Akshaya Patra is doing much to battle hidden hunger, because the right kind of nutrition is as important as food security for the population. In Karnataka, 4,45,698 children in 2,665 Government schools benefit from the Foundation’s school lunch which includes rice fortified with 7 micronutrients; these include folic acid, vitamin B12 and iron. Projects such as these, when implemented across India and the world, go a long way in helping the cause of nourishment-for-all and take the world a few steps closer to the dream of a secure future.
This World Food Day, let’s come together to ensure that every school-going child is well-fed and educated. Feed them today!