When you go to sleep at night, chances are you’ve had a full meal earlier that evening, but every night almost one billion people in the world go to bed hungry. (1)
There are over 30 million Americans that fall into this statistic, 13 million of them are children. While there are several assistance programs such as food stamps, WIC and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), children are still going to bed hungry for various reasons, such as income just above the poverty line, that disqualifies a household for food stamps and other federal assistance.
Undernourishment brings a set of problems that impact the person’s ability to function and work in order to earn a living and improve their living conditions.
Malnourished people suffer from weakened immune systems and fall victim to disease more readily. Undernourished children are also at a developmental risk that will impact them for their entire lives.
The UN (United Nations) statistics on world hunger reveal that one out of seven people in the world don’t have enough food to live a healthy and active life. In America, one out of four children lives in what is termed as food insecurity, which means not always having access to food. (1)
Of all the statistics, the most alarming and devastating is the one posted on the Seed Programs International (SPI) website:
“Every year more than 10 million children die of hunger and preventable diseases – that’s over 30,000 per day and one every 5 seconds”. (2)
Seed Programs International Helps Feed the Hungry
The Asheville, North Carolina based Seed Programs International expresses the philosophy of self-empowerment through self-sufficiency. SPI states that supplying food to the hungry makes the people become dependent upon food shipments.
The organization places the control of food production into the hands of the hungry. SPI provides quality seeds to people, so they can grow and harvest their own foods.
In a unique twist of second harvest, SPI acquires donated seeds that aren’t going to be used and are slated to be destroyed. This reclamation process is good for large seed companies as well as the recipients.
SPI puts the seeds through tests to determine viability and suitability for the designated countries. The seeds are then packaged with instructions and a booklet on how to grow crops.
The seeds are delivered to “humanitarian partner organizations to people in need. Family, school and community gardens are planted and are thriving… SPI provides ongoing support to organizations and farmers around the world.”
SPI typically delivers seeds annually to their partners to ensure ongoing food production quality. To date, SPI has an annual seed distribution of 500,000 seed packets. Over a 13-year period, SPI shipped more than 5.7 million seed packets to Africa. (2)
Plant a Row for the Hungry
Many gardeners end up with more produce than they can eat or store. It’s not surprising that action was taken by gardeners. Home gardeners and communities have been united by the Garden Writers Association’s (GWA), Plant A Row for the Hungry program (PAR).
The PAR program was started 15 years ago by the GWA to:
“Create and sustain a grassroots program for garden writers to use their local media position to encourage readers/listeners to donate surplus garden produce to local food banks, soup kitchens, and service organizations to help feed America’s hungry. PAR provides focus, direction, and support to local volunteer committees who execute the programs”. (3)
You may be familiar with Ed Hume from his television show, Gardening in America. His company, Hume Seeds, jumped onto the PAR bandwagon by offering the first 250 people who emailed them and stated they wanted to participate in PAR “a free packet of vegetable seeds”. (4)
Many people believe that producing better seeds that are less susceptible to disease is the best way to end world hunger. Many GE (Genetically Engineered) and GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) advocates believe these seeds hold the solution to world hunger, while those who oppose GMOs just as adamantly believe tampering with seed genetics is the path to eventual world famine.
The world produces enough food to feed every person in the world with food to spare. The problem isn’t lack of production but lack of even distribution of the world’s food supply. This is a political and regional problem that cannot be easily rectified.
Giving people the opportunity to become self-sufficient by growing their own food is a step in the right direction. The efforts of those dedicated to getting seeds into the hands of the hungry and empowering them to grow their own foods is an immediate response to world hunger that will have long-lasting and far-reaching benefits.
References & Image Credits:
(1) United Nations
(2) Seed Programs International
(3) Garden Writers Association
(4) Hume Seeds
(5) Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) via photopin cc
(6) TumblingRun via photopin cc