As families gather for holiday feasts, food insecurity isn't likely to be part of the dinner conversation. But, it's a growing issue around the world, including in the United States.
The World Food Program, using data from 79 of the countries where it works and where data is available, estimates that more than 345 million people globally are facing acute levels of food insecurity in 2023 and don't know where their next meal is coming from.
Here in the U.S., a recent USDA report shows 12.8% of households (17 million or 44.2 million people) were food insecure in 2022. That's up from 10.2% of households (13.5 million) in 2021. Analysts partially blame the expiration of multiple COVID-19 pandemic-era food programs and high inflation for the increase, especially among lower-income families.
Food production worldwide is also being affected by punishing weather caused by extreme temperatures and varying levels of water (floods and drought). A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates global agricultural losses because of natural disasters equaled $3.8 trillion from 1991 to 2021. That's equivalent to annual losses of $123 billion.
Those losses over the past 31 years could have met the daily dietary requirements of 400 to 500 million people. The authors say the losses are likely underestimated, because the report focuses on crops and livestock. Data wasn't available for damage to forestry, fisheries and aquaculture. In all, the FAO estimates 205 million people need life-saving assistance, and some 768 million people are facing chronic hunger.
For farmers and ranchers who make raising and growing food their business, hunger may seem to be a faraway problem. But, in reality, it might be happening in their own communities.
So, be thankful for your blessings, and remember to lend a helping hand to others less fortunate.
PEACE ON EARTH, GOODWILL TOWARD MEN
Since I was a young boy, I've heard these six words in song and scripture during the Christmas season.
Six words. Bursting with hope and promise as one year comes to an end and another begins.
Six simple words in meaning, yet, put together, so difficult to achieve.
As we gather with family and friends to celebrate Christmas, our world is anything but peaceful. As war rages in Ukraine and Gaza, there are fears these conflicts will spread to other regions.
Here at home, goodwill toward men seems to have been abandoned, as a deeply divided nation is more interested in blaming one another for various problems rather than working together. Compromise is viewed as a weakness, while integrity is discarded for personal and political gain.
Smokey Robinson and The Miracles recorded "Peace on Earth (Good Will Toward Men)" in 1970. The lyrics ring as true today as they did some 50 years ago.
The song talks about contentious social issues and divisions that cause rifts between generations. The theme throughout calls for us to keep the spirit of Christmas Day in our hearts and deeds to make the world a better place.
May we all strive for peace on earth and goodwill toward men every day of the year.
-- Write Gregg Hillyer, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, email email@example.com, or follow Gregg on X (formerly Twitter) @GreggHillyer
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