Education Resource

Hunger is a Reality for Much of the World's Populations

Allison was a Pulitzer Center Campus Liaison at Saint Louis University during the 2009-2010 school year. Originally published in The University News of St. Louis University.

We gripe at the quality of food at the Griesedieck cafeteria, grumble at the amount of calories in the nachos at Salsarita's and whine at the inflation rate of the flex dollar and the 'high price of proximity' (when, really, two blocks is not that big of a deal). In the time it took us to complain, a child died of hunger.

According to Oxfam International, a child dies of hunger every five seconds, amounting to 16,000 children a day. One in six people in the world go hungry, and one in eight lives in the United States. According to the St. Louis Business Journal, 58,000 people in the City of St. Louis worry about how to obtain their next meal. Hunger is neither a children's issue nor a third-world issue. It is a human issue, a violation of a universal human right.

The United Nations defines food security as "all people at all times having both physical and economic access to the basic food they need." For two billion people, this security blanket of wheat, rice and beans has been worn thin due to climate change, population growth, urban development and the shifting of oil prices.

The Food and Agriculture Organization said in 2008 that 80 percent of the world lives on less than $10 per day. Eighty percent of the world does not earn enough to purchase a box of Cheerios and a box of Pop-Tarts from our C-Store. Not only is that combination a poor choice of purchase with $10, but $10 does not leave a lot of wiggle room for when prices spike.

In Guatemala, 75 percent of children are chronically malnourished. Chronic malnourishment is not a lack of food, but a lack of the right kind of food, and leads to stunted growth and diminished mental capacity. Guatemala is just south of Honduras, where many Saint Louis University students have studied abroad. Only a short flight from the U.S., these countries really aren't that far away.

On Oct. 1, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting will be hosting a multimedia presentation on global food insecurity at Washington University in St. Louis. The presentation will feature two journalists, Fred de Sam Lazaro and Sharon Schmickle and their documentary footage covering the food crises in Nigeria, India and East Africa. Founded by a former reporter and editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Pulitzer Center focuses "on under-reported topics, promoting high-quality international reporting and creating platforms that reach broad and diverse audiences."

We gripe, grumble and whine, but there are worse things. We are lucky to bounce around in our SLU bubble. Food may not be the cheapest commodity here at SLU, but at least it remains affordable to most.