10 Myths About World Hunger

Today is World Hunger Day. To fight hunger, we need to sort facts from fiction. Here are ten myths you should stop believing.

10. Global hunger is getting worse

Things are actually getting better. While 805 million people in the world still don’t have enough food, throughout the past 20 years, the percentage of those living in extreme poverty has been cut in half. This is encouraging news!

9. There’s not enough food for everyone

The earth produces enough food for each of its 7 billion people to have the recommended number of calories per day. Other factors causing ongoing hunger include lack of freedom, lack of access, and lack of income.

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8. AIDS, malaria, and Tuberculosis are worse problems than hunger

These diseases are terrible and deserve our attention. However, hunger kills more people every year than AIDS, malaria, and Tuberculosis combined. It’s estimated that at least 6,000 people die every day from hunger and hunger-related causes.

7. Hunger looks like a skinny kid

Not always. Kwashiorkor, a form of severe protein deficiency, causes a malnourished child’s stomach to bloat and swell. Worms and parasites can have a similar effect. Without a proper diet of vitamins and minerals, a body might look normal on the outside, while inside, organs begin to slow down or stop.

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6. We should be teaching people how to farm, not just giving them food

Successfully growing crops takes time and energy. A starving or malnourished person has neither. Food is needed immediately. Once physically able, they can learn how to become self-reliant through farming practices. When done strategically, providing food first builds a base for all the other progress.

5. The biggest needs happen during disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes

Disasters get attention. The needs are often stunning and desperate. Relief work is very important, yet emergencies only account for 8% of the world’s hungry. Good nonprofit work should address both short term relief and long term development.

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4. Famines are unpredictable

Preventing a famine is possible. Data sharing technology has never been better. Scientists and economists now have early warning systems capable of predicting potential famines. Progress is being made in many countries.

3. Global hunger is an impossible problem to solve

Solving world hunger is not an absurd goal. If smallpox can be eradicated (and many others are close to elimination), then ending hunger is certainly possible as well. Our current trajectory shows that if we stay on course, extreme hunger will continue to move towards zero.

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2. Global hunger is an easy problem to solve

If solving extreme hunger were simple, we would have done it already. Hunger is rooted in a complex and interconnected set of problems including corruption, environmental issues, farming, history, psychology, and more. Good organizations know solving hunger means doing more than just giving food to the hungry. It’s important to address all the issues that create, cause, and compound the problem.

1. There’s nothing I can do about it

You might think, “I’m just one person. I’m not rich, famous, or influential. The problem is so complex and huge, maybe it should be left to someone else to solve.” No! If global hunger is to be eliminated, we need everyone working together. In the past 25 years, there have never been more opportunities to volunteer, donate, and advocate online for the poor and hungry. Check out World Hunger Day’s website for ideas.

Don’t let these misconceptions about global hunger keep you from acting. Armed with truth, we’ll see the end to hunger if we all do our part.

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Drew Gneiser tells stories and manages the social media at Feed My Starving Children, an international nonprofit in the business of helping volunteers turn hunger into hope with their own two hands.

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