You stare at the teacher but can’t quite focus on what she is saying. And is it just you or is the room swaying a bit? You cough again, just can’t quite seem to shake that lingering cold. You desperately want to do well on exams, but can’t muster a lot of hope for it and really all you can think about is that gnawing in your stomach.
The Food and Agriculture Organization, a branch of the United Nations, reports that nearly 870 million people were “chronically undernourished” worldwide between 2010 and 2012. That means that 1 in every 8 people on the planet experienced consistent hunger and malnutrition. Around the world, a full 12% of the population is unable to function at their best because of a lack of consistent food security.
And children are among the most vulnerable victims.
Each year, 2.5 million children die due to malnutrition related causes. And that doesn’t even explore the statistics on the children who survive but are unable to thrive due to hunger. Among the side effects of chronic malnutrition are difficulty concentrating, dizziness, frequent infections, depression, stunted growth and noticeable changes in behavior.
Is it little wonder then that so many of the world’s problems and conflicts can be tied to hunger?
We can put children in schools. But how will they learn when hunger dulls their concentration? We can provide unlimited drugs to manage the HIV epidemic touching even the youngest children. But what happens when the potent ARVs do more damage to an empty stomach than they do good? We can search for homes for displaced children, but who will take a child when they can not feed their own?
Achieving food security, or the consistent access at all times to the food necessary to sustain healthy living, is the kind of goal that takes change to whole different levels.
It solves the immediate and obvious need of hunger. By providing access to a sustainable food solution, a community will eat more regular meals. Individuals will achieve healthier weights and children with grow to healthier sizes. With proper nutrition, communities will be less susceptible to infection and health will generally thrive.
When schools and communities are able to contribute to sustainable food security, children are more likely to attend classes. Properly fed, the students have greater concentration and statistically greater success on exams and higher rates of matriculation. This means that the community is benefitting from a larger pool of educated citizens to make decisions and contribute to overall progress.
When communities are able to guarantee that no one will go hungry, it becomes easier for them to care for each other, even those who are not their kin. Too often displaced children end up living a transient life of wandering from village to village and home to home. They keep on the move because when resources are limited, most will only give what they can spare after caring for their own families. But with food security programs in place within the community, caring families can to open their homes to children with the confidence that all mouths will get fed.
When hospitals are able to provide food security in addition to medical care to their patients, it strengthens the efficacy of their life saving efforts. As a basic building block of human life, nutrition is essential to any wellbeing effort. Medication without proper nutrition is simply pumping water into a bucket with holes. But with the addition of food security, we give medical professionals the foundation on which to build a health community.
Food security forms the building block to creating massive change.
With the success of our signature Children’s Gardens initiatives, Global Roots is bring food security to communities around the world. In Kenya, our gardens have increased regular student attendance to 90%! In Afganistan our gardens have found homes for dozens of displaced children. We have garden and greenhouse programs helping children thrive in Tibet and Cambodia. And one new food security initiative currently set to launch in 2017 will help fight Female Genital Mutilation among tribal regions of Eastern Africa. And we don’t plan to stop there!
Are you ready to help food security create overall security? Join us at Global Roots to find out how!