Campaign Against Hunger

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On February 9-11, 2001, Fr Robert Maloney and Fr Benjamin Romo were in Paris for the annual meeting of those responsible for various branches of the Vincentian Family. One outcome of this meeting is that after much reflection on the various urgent forms of poverty in the world today, we decided to focus as a family, from September 27, 2001 to September 27, 2003, on a single issue: hunger. The motto used during this period was: “The Globalization of Charity: Fight Against Hunger.”

As a response to this call, many branches of the Vincentian Family developed projects and resources to assist in this effort. The HealHunger site seeks to clarify the facts about hunger around the world. There is a powerpoint presentation available to demonstrate the issues involved in this campaign.


The Globalization of Charity: the Fight Against Hunger


'O God to those who have hunger, give bread To us who have bread, give hunger for justice'


September 27, 2003

Suggested Theme: Hunger

Every day we see on our t.v. screens the suffering face of Christ in so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, in people who are hungry and poor. The leaders of the Vincentian family ask us to continue a worldwide effort (which began in 2001) to explore ways to channel our energies to lighten this burden of hunger here in Ireland and throughout the world. In particular this year they ask to us to take political action in a worldwide campaign against Malaria.

Need: Some Basic Facts

Almost 800 million people — about one-sixth of the population of the world’s developing nations — are malnourished. 200 million of them are children. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

About 24,000 people die very day from hunger or hunger-related causes. Three- fourths of the deaths are children under the age of five. The Hunger Project, United Nations

Today 10% of children in developing countries die before the age of five. CARE

Besides death, chronic malnutrition also causes impaired vision, listlessness, stunted growth and greatly increased susceptibility to disease. Severely malnourished people are unable to function at even a basic level. United Nations World Food Program (WFP)

In the last 50 years, almost 400 million people worldwide have died from hunger and poor sanitation. That is three times the number of people killed in all the wars fought in the entire 20th century. BFWI

Famine and wars cause about 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones we hear about most often. The majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition. Families facing extreme poverty are simply unable to get enough food to eat.

The problem is not food production, but distribution. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has set the minimum requirement for caloric intake per person per day at 2350. Worldwide, there are 2720 calories available per person per day. Over 50 countries fall below that requirement; they do not produce enough food to feed their populations, nor are they able to afford to import the necessary commodities to make up the gap. Most of these countries are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Often it takes just a few simple resources for impoverished people to be able to grow enough food to become self-sufficient. These resources include quality seeds, appropriate tools and access to water. Small improvements in farming techniques and food storage methods are also helpful. Oxfam

Chronic hunger causes various illnesses:

  • impaired vision
  • impaired functioning of the immune system (which means increased susceptibility to disease)
  • stunted growth or developmental difficulties.

==What Can Be Done== — Various Levels

Addressing Vincentians in 1986, Pope John Paul II stated:

"Sons and daughters of St. Vincent, search out more than ever, with boldness, humility and skill, the causes of poverty and encourage short- and long-term solutions; adaptable and effective concrete solutions. By doing so you will work for the credibility of the gospel and of the Church" (Vincentiana XXX, 1986, 417).

We propose action on two levels:

  • Providing Food Immediately. Hunger is one of those problems that demands an immediate response, as St. Vincent often demonstrated in practice. When there is no response, people die.
  • Attacking the Causes. This is more difficult, but in the long run more effective. This problem of hunger can be eradicated. Though 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes, this is down from 35,000 ten years ago, and 41,000 twenty years ago. Many experts believe that ultimately the best way to reduce hunger is through education. Educated people are better able to break out of the cycle of poverty that causes hunger.

How you can help

  • Providing breakfast for children going to school.
  • Breakfast clubs can be a key means of helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds to make a success of nursery and primary school. Research suggests that breakfast clubs help children with:Attendance and punctuality.
  • Improved concentration in class, and better discipline.
  • Better social interaction
  • Better contact between teachers and parents.
  • Clubs may be particularly beneficial in areas of high social need. Why not find out how you can support agencies such as Barnardos and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul who are already providing this service. Make a donation to Barnardos - Just €10 per month will provide breakfast for four children every week at one of their breakfast clubs. Is this a service that is needed in your area, if so why not make enquires about setting up a breakfast club ?
  • Many parishes or community centres offer hot nourishing meals for the elderly or others who may be living alone or temporarily incapacitated and unable to cook for themselves. If this service is provided in your area could you give a few hours a week to volunteer your time with cooking or preparing a meal for others ?
  • Support agencies already working to alleviate hunger in Ireland and overseas: Barnardos, Combat Poverty Agency, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Oxfam, Concern, Trocaire and Goal are just some of the organisations working towards alleviating hunger and poverty and have useful websites with up to date information available on how you can help their ongoing campaigns.
  • Organise an event to raise funds ie. a sponsored famine vigil.
  • Programs and projects for attacking the causes of hunger
  • Basic education is probably the single most important instrument for breaking out of the cycle of poverty. In 1998, in developing countries, about 130 million eligible children out of a total of 625 million did not attend primary school. 73 million of those children are girls (UNICEF).
  • Small projects aimed at teaching, and putting into practice, basic agricultural methods, basic irrigation, raising animals forfood consumption, establishing fish farms.
  • Educate ourselves by learning about the problem areas and spread awareness of the issue of hunger in our workplaces, our communities, our parishes.
  • Join with others who are working to change policies—to meet basic human needs and address the underlying causes of hunger
  • Lobby your local politician on the need to increase the contribution made to alleviate world hunger and lobby for policies which ensure an equal distribution of wealth to those in need in your country.


External Links

Hunger Wikipedia article