The goal of Zero Hunger encompasses food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture. In addition to increasing investments in food systems and sustainable agriculture, the goal to end hunger by 2030 must also include campaigns to increase access to nutritious foods and efforts to reduce food waste. In this wide-ranging collection of stories below, efforts both large and small reveal the many solutions to hunger being pursued globally.
Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and genetic science are vital tools in the fight against hunger, land degradation, and climate change. AI can help identify complex problem areas and engineer solutions, as Joseph Bennington-Castro explains. We learn from Amy Maxmen about the use of genetic science to develop new varieties of crops like cassava. Cassava is already a resilient, drought-tolerant crop, and scientists are working to improve its yields by crossing African varieties with those found in Asia and other continents.
Despite significant gains in reducing hunger during the last century, the mounting effects of climate change are having a pronounced negative impact on long-term food security. The UN notes an increase in the number undernourished individuals beginning in 2016 and continuing into 2017.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the long-term consequences of food insecurity. Studies in Nepal have noted that as of 2014, a stunning 41 percent of Nepali children suffer from stunting due to malnutrition. In addition to stunted growth, chronic food insecurity lowers IQ, diminishes developmental capacity, and ushers in vulnerability to disease, making hunger the leading cause of death worldwide. Children also suffer the effects of poor nutrition, with over 40 million children worldwide categorized as obese.
From cities ranging from Philadelphia to New Delhi, programs are working to provide children with reliable access to nutrition. However, these initiatives cannot reach everyone. In the US, the keys to supplementing governmental programs often include cross-sector collaboration, such as making use of additional relationships with non-profits, as well as the use of local volunteers and charitable organizations. In light of the pandemic, we learn how communities such as Hamden, CT are addressing food scarcity and hunger by expanding food banks and providing free meals to children under 18.
Click here for more stories in the Solutions Story Tracker on the goal of zero hunger.
- Define the differences between hunger, malnutrition, and food security. Identify and list some of the causes and consequences of each.
- What populations face the greatest risks when it comes to food insecurity? Explain why children, in particular, face a high risk and bear the most visible consequences of food insecurity.
- Describe the various strategies being employed by Hamden-area organizations to address hunger and food scarcity in the region. Can these strategies be brought to scale, and endure after the pandemic passes? Why or why not? What larger social fissures has this pandemic revealed?
- What accounts for the global imbalance of high rates of obesity existing alongside high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition? What role do issues such as consumption patterns and food waste play in the matter? In what ways does access to food reveal larger structural and systemic inequality?
- Evaluate the roles of governments and non-governmental organizations in reducing food insecurity. Consider, for instance, what role programs such as school lunches play in reducing hunger among juveniles. How do these efforts, and their impact, differ across the globe?
- How does the goal of ending hunger relate to the other UN goals? In particular, examine the relationship between goal 2 and one of the following goals: good health and wellbeing (3); responsible consumption and production (12); climate action (13); life below water (14); life on land (15)
- Identify an Issue Area or Success Factor related to Goal 2 that is of interest to you. Next, create a collection, using stories from the Solutions Story Tracker. Use the stories in your collection as the basis for a group discussion or activity.
- Design a program for your community targeted at reducing food insecurity. You may also want to consider programs geared toward reducing food waste, as explained in the Project Drawdown collection found here.
- Hunger refers most commonly to food deprivation, and the sensation caused by it. Hunger can be either a short-term feeling, or, in cases of food insecurity, a chronic condition. Malnutrition results from a deficiency or imbalance of food and nutritional intake. Food security is defined as people having physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs for an active and healthy life; food insecurity, therefore, refers to a state where people do not have access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food, resulting in chronic hunger, malnutrition, and even starvation.
- According to the UN, in 2018, 22 percent of the global population of children under the age of five were chronically undernourished. Poor nutrition accounts for about 45% of child mortality under the age of five. Of the 821 million people suffering from food insecurity, sub-Saharan Africa faces the highest prevalence of hunger, and it is increasing (20.7% in 2014 compared to 23.2% in 2017).
- Food banks and pantries have expanded their hours and availability; “pop-up” and mobile pantries have been deployed, as well as drive-thru pantries; the “Community Emergency Response Team” has recruited additional volunteers and themselves served as front-line help; public schools are providing meals to those under 18; the United Way is providing cash relief to those in need; End Hunger is working to connect people to local and national food resources such as the SNAP program, and Haven Harvest collects unused food for distribution. Some of these strategies, such as food banks, are already at scale, but others, such as drive throughs, pop-ups, community engagement programs, and expanded SNAP benefits appear to meet an increasing need. Among many social, political, and economic fissures the pandemic has laid bare is that the number of Americans—particularly the most vulnerable, our children and the elderly—living in food scarcity or outright undernourishment is substantial. Many Americans are clearly on the bare edge of subsistence, and any disruption, whether an interruption of income or a medical problem, can throw them into hunger. On a higher level, the pandemic has demonstrated just how thin the US social safety net is, especially when compared to other Western countries.
- Watch the TED talk linked in this collection (also found here). Discuss global and local imbalances of food consumption with your students. Consider how rising inequality and food waste contribute to the problem. For more information, see also the teaching resources on food waste from Project Drawdown (found here).
- Discuss the differences between charity (short-term, reaching individuals) versus social-justice reform (long-term, structural changes)
- Answers will vary. Use the SDG knowledge platform as a quick-guide to each of the SDG goals, targets, and indicators.
- Have the students identify Issue Areas and Success Factors using the Story Tracker. Have the students create a collection around a particular Issue Area or Success Factor related to ending hunger and food insecurity. Students can copy and customize this collection. Using their custom collections, students can revisit the questions presented in this lesson.
- For more advanced students, educators might consider integrating community-based learning or scenario-based learning methods. Students could design scenarios that test different policy frameworks and possible approaches toward meeting the 2030 benchmarks. Activities can vary by class and instructors are encouraged to design their own!