You Can End Hunger

smiling boy with bowlI remember donating a few dollars and even helping raise money after listening to a speech about the famine in Ethiopia and the horn of Africa. The speakers berated our leaders for not doing more and for the weakness of the UN in its efforts to feed the starving masses. One comment I’ll never forget: “In these times no one should go hungry. Famines don’t happen overnight, so we should be able to prevent them!”  No, this isn’t a “We Are the World” mid-eighties flashback – it’s from my college years in the mid-seventies!

During the Ethiopia famine of the mid-eighties, we heard an outcry around the world to stop the dying. After all, we had plenty of food worldwide, so how could this happen AGAIN just 10 years later?  We were upset that once again millions were starving. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people had already died when news of the famine finally broke.

Today, we see all the signs of a world food crisis again: increasing food prices, lower production of edible food due to weather, emerging economies consuming more than anticipated (India and China), and the poor getting less and less because their money doesn’t stretch as far as it did just a few months ago. Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa have once again been in the headlines.

As the developed world heads into the indulgence of the holiday season, I cannot help but think about those who don’t experience a holiday from hunger. I think about the mother in Haiti who, on nights without food, would boil small rocks and tell her children supper would be awhile. She encouraged them to go rest, hoping their wait would cause them to fall asleep.

Operation Home Front Carolinas helps provide food and essentials for American families of servicemen/women.
Operation Home Front Carolinas helps provide food and essentials for American families of servicemen/women.

Even without widespread famines, children in places like Honduras, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda and the Philippines are just days away from personal famine because their family livelihoods are so fragile. This kind of famine is not confined to a particular geography, and it doesn’t have a cultural face; it isn’t caused by one crop failure or a drought in one region of the world; it’s not the result of a greedy or uncaring government. It’s many of these things all coming together.

To stop it, we must come together, too. Caring individuals like us need to identify people groups who are the most at risk, and we must act. We – individuals – need to step forward and be first to aid the poor. We need to influence our leaders to help keep grain and rice prices at reasonable levels, and we need to motivate our brothers and sisters in other developed countries to take hold of this chance to help the poorest of the poor.

girls and boxBefore you say that you can’t spare anything this holiday season, take a look at yourself. If you own a device on which to read this blog, you have enough extra to give.

Almost 1 billion people live in extreme poverty. I know that this number is overwhelming. Each of us has wondered how one person can do anything to put a dent in 1 billion hungry people. The fact is, most of us can’t, but we each can make a difference in the life of one person. You can help one child get at least one healthy meal each day, go to school, and maybe break free from poverty thanks to the chance you gave. If you are ready, we have a child for you.

Matt Panos is the Chief Development Officer for Feed the Children and has served the poor and hurting people of our world for more than 30 years. He’s traveled to more than 40 countries in his service with the poor.

You Can Help the Philippines Recover from Typhoon Haiyan

“It is a terrible time for all of us here.  We can only pray and hope that it will not be that strong when it finally gets to land.”

This was the last email we received from our Philippines office before Typhoon Haiyan struck on Thursday afternoon, November 7. We held our breath and prayed and waited through an agonizing 24 hours until finally on Friday night, our country director got a message through to us.

“We’re all safe. I am with our Feed the Children-Philippines team north of Cebu today bringing hot VitaMeal-based ‘champorado’ to typhoon victims here.”

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Desperately Needed Relief

You’ve seen the images. Whole communities are nothing but splintered wood. Thousands dead. Thousands more desperate for food, water, and shelter. All this on the heels of a magnitude-7.2 earthquake just two weeks prior.

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Hungry children line up to receive food at one of our mobile kitchens.

In spite of it all, our staff persist. They are checking on all of the people in all of the communities we serve. They are driving mobile kitchens out into typhoon-devastated areas, serving hot food fortified with VitaMeal and delivering bags of rice and bottled water to children and their families. (VitaMeal provides an essential balance of nutrients for brain and skeletal development, skin health, and immune defense, prevents dehydration with electrolytes, and provides 25 vitamins and minerals.)

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Thanks to donors like you and the financial support of partners like Foundation 4Life and Teleperformance Group, we are able to keep delivering food and water to these families.

Long-Term Recovery

All of this work is saving lives today. But it isn’t the full story.

Because of our 25 years in the country, we also see the big picture and all it will take to recover what was destroyed. We helped build the infrastructure – the feeding programs, schools, water and sanitation systems, and livelihood projects – that now needs repair.

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Even though their homes are destroyed, these boys can smile thanks to the warm meal and water delivered by our Philippines staff.

One island community where we work was completely leveled. We have signed up 320 children in this community the Philippines to receive a sponsor. As of November 20, 97 still need to be sponsored.

The Philippines needs assistance today; but beyond that, they need investors for tomorrow. We have been there for 25 years, and we are committed to staying for the long haul.

You Can Help

Perhaps you have been overwhelmed by just how massive the catastrophe in the Philippines is and thought, “I can’t do anything to help. The situation is too terrible for my small donation to make a difference.”

We have good news – you can help! When you sponsor a child from the Philippines, you not only invest in the health and education of that boy or girl, you also invest in their community as a whole. And in the wake of this storm, you can know that 100% of your sponsorship dollars will go directly toward storm assistance – rebuilding, repairing, and helping communities get back on their feet.

Jennifer is three years old and lives in the community wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan. She has hope for a future because she has a sponsor.
Jennifer is three years old and lives in the Feed the Children community wiped out by Typhoon Haiyan. She is one of the fortunate ones who has a sponsor investing in her future.

Child sponsorship changes a person’s life in a real, tangible, measurable way. A study published in the Journal of Political Economy  examined 10,000 individuals in six countries and found that adults who were sponsored as children are:

  • One third more likely to finish high school
  • More likely to complete more than one year of higher education
  •  35% more likely to have white collar jobs

Sponsoring a child from the Philippines is a powerful way for you to respond to Typhoon Haiyan. These 97 children whose homes were destroyed in the typhoon still need sponsors. Take action today. Sponsor a child in this community and show them you care. 

Scott Killough, PhD, is Vice President for Program Development at Feed the Children.

Beyond Bowls of Beans: How We’re Defeating Hunger Overseas

Today’s post is the first in a four-part series introducing you to our proactive, sustainable approach to ending international poverty and improving livesOur Four Pillars—Food & Nutrition, Health & Water, Education, and Livelihoods—comprise an 8- to 10-year, integrated program that equips and empowers impoverished families and communities to achieve self-sufficiency.

Today we’ll take a look at the Food and Nutrition pillar, where we work toward positive, lasting change by making nutritious food consistently available in some of the poorest communities in the world.

It’s not about shock and awe—it’s the truth: Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. So this is where we begin the battle. The development of positive, lasting change is untenable as long as malnutrition is taking lives—so our first step when we arrive in an impoverished place is to defeat hunger.

That’s a huge mission.

But we bring an arsenal of effective weapons and a precise strategy for defeating this enemy. Our approach in each situation depends on a community’s particular needs. So from Africa to Latin America to the Philippines to Haiti, we take aim where it’s needed most:

  • We construct or improve kitchens or feeding centers and energy-efficient stoves
  • We provide regular, hot, nutrient-rich meals through our school and community feeding centers
  • We offer nutrition education that includes the basics of achieving healthy, balanced diets, as well as training for children and adults about proper food preparation, handling, and storage
  • We distribute take-home rations, cooking pots, and utensils
  • We give agricultural training for the improvement of farming and irrigation, and we teach organic vegetable gardening to families, schools, and communities to help them establish and improve their own plots with healthful, indigenous produce
  • We distribute food supplements for pregnant and lactating mothers, deworming medication for children who can’t absorb nutrients, and vitamin supplements for malnourished children

And surely, steadily, with your help, we advance our cause.

school children at lunch in Guatemala

In El Salvador, we zeroed in on Ahuachapán, one of the country’s regions with the highest number of malnutrition cases among children under 12 years old. VitaMeal rice is a staple of our direct feeding program because it contains the vitamins and nutrients that malnourished children need to become healthy. We partnered with the Municipality of Ahuachapán, who brought in a nutritionist to work with the mothers of the 82 children who were starving in three of Ahuachapán’s poorest areas. We delivered 82 bags of VitaMeal, which she taught them how to prepare.

But this is not a one-and-done deal. We will continue to send each child one bag of VitaMeal every two weeks until they are no longer malnourished. Once all the children in those three areas are healthy, our El Salvador staff and the Municipality will move the project to other poor communities in Ahuachapán. And with every move, we win another battle against hunger.

In communities where we’ve implemented school- and community-based feedings such as these, we’ve seen attendance and enrollment increase more than 60%. This means that rather than spending their days scavenging through trash dumps or searching the streets for food, children come to school for the food they so desperately need—and with their meal, they also receive an education.

And education means hope.

Roxanna and her sister carry water for their family
Roxanna and her sister carry water for their family

Nine-year-old Roxana lives in the mountains, a treacherous 75-mile hike from Guatemala City. She and her six siblings crowd into a single-room cement block house with their parents, and her father tries to support them on four dollars a day by laboring hard to plant and maintain coffee trees for crop owners. Four dollars—the cost of a cup of coffee—is what Roxana’s father earns to harvest it.

They have no running water. The only water source the community has is a hike down to a tiny spring that they’ve rigged a rubber pipe to. The water is often dirty and sometimes they barely get a trickle. Several times a day, the women and children of the tiny community haul the water in jugs up and down the mountain. It’s a daily struggle just to get water—never mind food.

So our feeding center at her school is literally a life-saver for Roxana. Before we built the center, Roxana was severely malnourished. Now she and 130-150 other children receive regular, nutritious meals, medical care, and education when they walk through our doors. Roxana is fed—not just with food, but with hope. At school, she’s discovered that she loves math—she wants to be a teacher. And with a healthy body and hopeful heart, Roxana is a victory.

Hunger will not win.