Global Hunger

Hunger touches every community, every nation, and every region of the world.

  • Worldwide nearly 800 million people do not have enough to eat. That means one in nine people are suffering from hunger. [1]
  • Hunger and malnutrition are the number one risk to health worldwide. Each year the death toll exceeds that of AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined [2]
  • Every year, nearly 3 million children die from hunger-related causes [3]
  • Approximately 60% of the chronically hungry are women. [4]

Understanding the Definitions of Hunger

Hunger: The physical sensation; the body’s way of signaling that it is running short of food and needs to eat something.

Malnutrition: A broad term for a range of conditions that hinder good health, caused by inadequate or unbalanced food intake or from poor absorption of food consumed. It refers to both undernutrition (food deprivation) and overnutrition (excessive food intake in relation to energy requirements). A deficiency in even a single nutrient can have catastrophic effect on a person’s health. Hunger is most often measured in terms of undernutrition.

Food Security: Exists when all people at all times have both physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for a healthy life. Food Insecurity refers to conditions where people do not have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food. Households or communities can be described as food insecure and so can nations.

Causes of Hunger

Hunger is a profoundly complex issue. Geography, economics, politics, socioeconomic status, and many more factors play a role. Poverty is often an underlying cause, along with natural disasters, conflict, poor agricultural infrastructure, or lack of access to the marketplace. Recent economic crises and volatile food prices also place people at an increased risk of hunger.

Worldwide, and in most countries, there is enough food for everyone. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the world’s farmers produce around 2,800 calories per person per day. The global system of growing, distributing, and selling food is not serving us well as millions of people go hungry while a third of all food produced is wasted. Overconsumption and waste by some, write-off and loss of economic value associated with food waste, and insufficient purchasing power and access to food for others, are all major contributors to food insecurity. The challenge is not simply to increase food production; it is also to address our inadequate and poorly distributed global supply of food.

On Food Waste

One-third of food produced globally is lost or wasted

The 2011 Global Food Loss and Waste study, commissioned by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, reports that approximately one-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Read GFN’s response to the study and learn how food banks are part of the solution  >>

GMA and FMI – On a Mission to Reduce Food Waste

In an article published on Green Retail Decisions’ website, Megan Stasz, senior director sustainability for the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) and Jeanne von Zastrow, senior director of sustainability and industry relations for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), draw attention to the enormous amount of food waste on a global scale, and outline how a diverse group of stakeholders are coming together to find solutions. Find out how GFN and food banks play an important role in reducing food waste.

3 Ways to Compel Change Among Business & Consumers

General Mills is a committed champion against waste in the food industry. Bob Branham, Director of Customer Sustainability at General Mills and co-chair of the US Food Industry Waste Coalition, recently outlined the work that General Mills and other members of the food industry are taking in order to help combat food waste. One of the highlights in General Mills’ struggle against food waste is their support of food rescue efforts like those of The Global FoodBanking Network.
Read More>>

Waste Not, Want Not: Solutions for Reducing Post Harvest Loss

GFN President and CEO Jeff Klein discusses food loss and food waste as part of a panel discussion at the 2012 Borlaug Dialog at The World Food Prize in Des Moines, Iowa. He speaks specifically about the role food banks play in reducing food waste and post harvest loss, and how food banks rescue food and redistribute it to hungry people.

[1] The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014, FAO
[2] World Food Program, 2012
[3] [4] World Food Program, 2012