“Almost a billion people are going hungry every day around the world,” according to Bettina Luescher, chief spokesperson for the United Nations World Food Programme. During the PRSA 2010 International Conference, Luescher shared powerful stories of providing hunger relief to children and families devastated by war or natural disasters, including recent efforts in Haiti, Pakistan and Afghanistan. She asked the audience to ponder the reality of famine: “We’ve never felt true hunger – it’s like having bleach in your stomach.”
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. In 2010, the organization aims to reach more than 90 million people with food assistance in 73 countries. “Hunger is a huge issue around the world,” stated Luescher. “Hunger today still kills more people than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.”
In addition to sharing how the United Nations handles communications during a crisis, Luescher reflected on the crucial role education plays in combating world hunger. She declared with confidence: “Education is the single most important investment a country can make.” The World Food Programme advocates for education through the organization’s school meal food programmes.
Besides providing vital nourishment, school meals act as a safety net for poor families and help keep children in schools. In countries where school attendance is low, the promise of at least one nutritious meal each day boosts enrollment and promotes regular attendance. Parents are motivated to send their children to school instead of keeping them at home to work or care for siblings. In the poorest parts of the world, a school meal programme can double primary school enrollment in one year.
Among the key beneficiaries are girls, who otherwise may never be given the opportunity to learn. In its “take-home rations” projects, the World Food Programme provides basic food items, often including a sack of rice and a can of cooking oil, to families who send their daughters to school. With school meal programmes in nearly 70 countries, Luescher stated that “the World Food Programme is not a hand-out; it’s an empowerment program. We provide the nourishment people need to achieve their dreams.”
To end her presentation, Luescher delivered this simple message: “It takes only 25 cents to feed a hungry child in school for a day.” This token expense fills one of the Red Cups that the World Food Programme uses to give hungry kids regular school meals. “You don’t have to be a millionaire to make a huge change in the world today – if you just give a little bit – this meal in school will completely change their life,” said Luescher.
Spread the word by sharing this story with family, coworkers and friends. Together, we can end world hunger. For information on how to donate, visit https://www.wfp.org/donate/fillthecup.
Bettina Luescher at PRSA 2010 International Conference: