It’s World Food Day – 16 October 2014

I’m sure there are many of us who had no idea it was World Food Day today. I’ll admit, I didn’t know anything about Word Food Day or the fact there was such a thing until I saw something on a news feed I subscribe to. Trust the Americans and Canadians to be on the forefront of having an awareness day such as this!  It was, however, the United Nations (UN) who kicked off the first World Food Day conjunction with the Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) back in 1945. So, what’s it all about I hear you ask?

It’s not just the Americans and Canadians who are behind it, World Food Day was established in 1945, in gained momentum in 1979 and has been observed in more than 150 countries since. The goal is to raise awareness of the issues behind poverty and hunger. World Food Day provides an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the fact that there are 842 million undernourished people in the world and that unsustainable models of development are degrading the natural environment, threatening ecosystems and biodiversity that will be needed for our future food supply. Our children’s future food supply.

We’ve recently moved house and there is a gentlemen in our neighborhood who goes from door to door asking to do odd jobs. I’ve seen him; working in various gardens, washing various cars parked in the street, keeping himself to himself.  He’s knocked on our door a few times and I’ve often turned him away. But it wasn’t until he said “Please. I just want to work so that I can buy food. My children are hungry. I am hungry”, that’s when my mind shifted. We’ve managed to find something for this hard working gentlemen to do almost weekly (sometimes more!) and provide lunch in doing so. This remained untouched the first day he worked in our garden, “Was there something wrong with the food?” I asked “No. I’m taking it for my children.” came his reply.

According to a recent Oxfam report; almost one in four South Africans do not have enough to eat. This means that a quarter of our population go to bed hungry. Low incomes, rising costs, a lack of access to productive resources and climate change are amongst the reasons causing this pandemic amongst 13 million people in our country. One family was  found to be living on just R6.00 a day.

What alarming statistics. Especially since South Africa produces more than enough food to feed the entire population.

Oxfam’s Rashmi Mistry said: “The right to sufficient food is enshrined in the constitution but government policies have failed for one in four South Africans.  October has been adopted by the government as food security month but just increasing production and creating one giant food mountain will not help the poorest and does not go far enough to address the root causes of hunger.  We need better implemented policies that are developed with those most affected by hunger and backed by legislation that holds everyone to account for people having enough to eat.” 

So what can you do? Adopt the Oxfam Grow Method for a start

Save Food – Reducing your food waste helps make the most of our precious resources we all rely on.

Seasonal – When you buy food that’s in season today, you’re saving energy and resources for tomorrow.

Less – Eating a vegetarian meal at least once a week helps grow more food for the people who need it, while taking pressure off the planet.

Support – Look for products and brands that ensure small-scale food producers get a fair deal

Cook Smart – A few small changes to the way we cook can cut down on wasted water and energy.

The Oxfam report goes on the say that communities in the nine municipalities agree that the price of staple foods, like maize have increased. Electricity prices have skyrocketed which often forces people to choose between food and fuel.  The inequality of access to food across South African households is stark with the poorest spending 50% of their income on food while the richest 10% of the population spend only 10% on food. This means any increases in prices hits the poorest the hardest.

The report confirms that access to food is also limited by food retailers’ control over pricing and availability. Five retailers control 60% of the formal retail market, leaving small and informal traders finding it hard to compete.  The food industry has been plagued by collusion and price fixing scandals. Prices are inflated whilst farmworkers often struggle to survive in meager wages, or face losing their jobs completely.”. This is why it’s so important to support local, smaller producers.

When you’re on your way to work this morning, or off to the gym later on or while you’re dropping your little one off at nursery or school, just take one minute to think about the other mother or father who wasn’t able to provide a healthy breakfast for their child, or a packed lunch and who will undoubtedly go to bed tonight with an empty tummy.

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