No one on the planet should go hungry. The world’s farmers actually grow more calories than the World Food Programme recommendation for a healthy diet. In most places, the challenge is access. (National Geographic News)
Read a version of this article on our site, explore undernourishment data from around the world with MapMaker Interactive, and check out our Food Education collection, providing resources for teaching about food and food issues.
- Read through our article on undernourishment. What is the difference between hunger and undernourishment?
- Hunger is a physical condition marked by stomach pangs and general fatigue. People all over the world go hungry, even for just a few hours, when they don’t have enough to eat.
- Undernourishment, which is a chronic physical condition, can lead someone to be underweight for his or her age, stunted in growth, and deficient in vitamins and minerals. Undernourishment often affects large communities and even entire countries where enough quality food isn’t available.
- According to National Geographic, farmers produce more food than the world actually needs, yet more than 800 million people remain undernourished. The challenge is distribution. Why do some regions experience disruptions in supply and distribution?
- Some regions plagued by undernourishment are isolated rural communities with a lack of infrastructure. In Zambia, for instance, less than 20 percent of the population has access to a durable road.
- Some regions experience political instability. The political isolation in North Korea, for example, limits trade and food aid. In the Central African Republic, an ongoing civil war has led to widespread displacement, which interrupts food distribution networks. Adjust the transparencies on these two layers of our MapMaker Interactive to compare undernourishment and internally displaced people in the Central African Republic.
- Some regions are ravaged by natural disasters. Haiti, the most undernourished country in the world, has been relentlessly attacked by natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and drought.
- In the United States, the government has shifted language from hunger or undernourishment to levels of “food security.” What is food security, and what are some characteristics of households that have low food security? Use this article from the USDA for some help.
- According to the USDA, “Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.” In 2013, 85.7 percent of U.S. households were food secure throughout the year. The typical food-secure household spent 30 percent more for food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and composition.
- Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line, households with children headed by single women or single men, and Black- and Hispanic-headed households. Food insecurity was more common in large cities and rural areas than in suburban areas and exurban areas around large cities.
- Characteristics shared by many households experiencing food insecurity include:
- worry that food would run out
- food bought that did not last
- inability to afford a balanced (healthy, nutritious) meal
- cut or skipped meals
- eating less than they felt they should
- Want to address issues of food security in the classroom? Check out these great resources from our Food Education partners.
- Teaching Tolerance serves up a collection of articles on food, culture, and justice. Check out “Serving Up Food Justice at School” for an outline of food justice principles and how to apply them in any classroom.
- The Center for Ecoliteracy serves up a collection of materials on reforming what school lunch means in the community. Check out “School Lunch Survey,” a lesson plan to help students collect data and present recommendations for improving their school district’s lunch offerings.