World Food Day was established in 1980 to bring public awareness to global hunger and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against malnutrition and poverty. Today, World Food Day is commemorated around the world in various ways, including here in the U.S. at the World Food Prize ceremony in Iowa, which each year honors significant contributions in agriculture.
But you don't have to be a scientist, farmer, or charity CEO to make a difference in food security, sustainability and hunger reduction. Below are three examples of ways you can make a difference on October 16, World Food Day:
Join Top Chefs around the country in putting the sweet potato on the menu.
Top Chef judge and culinary whiz Hugh Acheson is joining ONE and a host of celeb chefs around the country (including Sam Talbot, Hosea Rosenberg and Spike Mendelsohn) on World Food Day to demonstrate the delicious nutritive powers of the sweet potato. The orange vegetable is a fall favorite in the U.S., but has the potential to be an increasingly important crop in other parts of the world, too, especially in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, where it tolerates dry spells and poor soil and can be a reliable source for complex carbohydrates.
"I had no idea that it could pack suck nutritional punch and be such a gamechanger," Acheson says of the humble sweet potato. "We need more crops like this to become staples for locally feeding the world."
According to the World Health Organization, 3.5 million children under 5 years of age die each year as a result of malnutrition. Making sure your own children receive healthy, nutritious foods has an impact: well-nourished kids do better in school and tend to become more productive adults with higher earnings.
"I think the first step is food awareness at a young age," Acheson says. "If you don't teach kids about vegetables early, then they get reliant on french fries and ketchup being their vegetables."
Acheson will be serving up sweet potatoes in Atlanta on October 16 to a crowd at the Viking Cook School, but says you can enhance the nutrition of your own meals by cooking them up yourself. His suggestions: "Roast them in slices and then toss them with a simple vinaigrette, raisins, figs and arugula. Or make a soup out them with chilies and roasted onions."
Take action: Find out how the sweet potato can affect your family's nutrition as well as that of other families around the world. Share your recipes here. Or post an Instagram photo using the hashtag #recipeforchange. Click here to find out more.
Watch Molly's Story and Provide a Free Meal for a Child
In 2011, the World Food Programme gave a video camera to 12 year-old girl living in the slums outside Nairobi, Kenya. Her name is Molly, and her video journals of the struggles and triumphs of every day life captivated folks in the international development community.
For Molly and many of her friends, the meals they enjoy at school through the WFP are the primary sources of nutrition they receive during the day. While Molly's living conditions may seem vastly different from those in the U.S., she's not all that different to the thousands of children who fight poverty and hunger in America.
Molly's world was featured on CNN and also shared with school children on several continents via Cisco's TelePresence technology and a live UStream. Kids in Italy, Brazil, the UK and Australia asked questions on Facebook and were able to interact with Molly and her friends.
Share Your Food With the World By Using the GROW Method.
One of the easiest actions we can take on World Food Day is to investigate the food we eat. Where is it grown? Where is it produced or manufactured? How does it get to us? Are any of these practices sustainable? Can we grow or buy the food locally?
The GROW method encourages each of us to 1) reduce food waste 2) buy products and brands that ensure small scale food producers get a fair deal 3) cook smart to reduce water and energy use 4) purchase and eat food in season for better nutrition, and 5) eat less meat and dairy to reduce greenhouse gases.
Take action: Interested in food, supply and demand, and nutrition? Host a World Food Day dinner to discuss these topics with your friends. Then visit Oxfam's Facebook and Pinterest pages to learn more about foods around the world, share recipes and sustainability methodologies.