After donating roughly $14,000 towards hunger relief efforts in 2020, I realized I didn’t know enough about this issue, understood the real scope of the problem, or grasped the true roadblocks that make solving food insecurity difficult. My goal this year is to dive into learning and understanding more about the issue.
As to our work, it was much harder than I anticipated raising that 14K. You would think that informing people that ONE BILLION people are food insecure, it would be easy to motivate people to action.
I think part of the problem is the word “billion.” It is really hard to get one’s head around that number. It makes it nearly impossible to believe that one can contribute to solving that problem. Similar to the fact that, as of this writing, our national debt is around 27 TRILLION. Most humans cannot comprehend this value, thus, the problem doesn’t seem real, and thus, isn’t a priority problem.
I resolved to educate myself more on hunger, and what this foundation could do about the crisis. I am doing this for two reasons: One, I need to better understand the problem. Two, I need to learn a more refined approach to educating and motivating people to join us in doing something about it (such as raising resources).
And I might have just discovered a key issue:
In reading The End of Hunger, edited by Jenny Eaton Dyer and Cathleen Falsani, I learned about a critical issue that provides more of a human face to this problem, and that is the issue of “stunting.”
From the book: “Stunting, meaning a child has low height and size for his or her age, is the result of children missing out on vital nutrients when they are in utero through the first two years of their lives – those magical, all-important, first one thousand days. The effects of stunting, including frequent illness, poor cognitive ability, difficulty in school, and lackluster performance at work, can be devastating and last for a lifetime.”
Stunting isn’t just a problem for the first one thousand days of a child’s existence. Once afflicted, it will impact the REST OF THEIR LIFE. And by extension, it impacts the local community, the state, and the global community – the resultant poor health and education of a stunted individual limits their ability to viably contribute to society, both economically and culturally.
I cannot speak for you, but truly understanding this issue is new to me. I’ve certainly heard of stunting before, but never really attached the true power of this problem to the issue of “hunger.” Solving for stunting strikes me as a very obvious focus that we can organize and work towards.
Look, there are many already keenly aware of this issue, and working to address it. Far be it from me to say my work and focus will be the tipping point. But if I can advocate solutions, ideas, and educate more people about the problem of stunting, that shrinks the world a bit, and gets us closer to creating that tipping point where you, scientists, philanthropists, influencers, and (most importantly) political leaders can bump up hunger as an issue worth solving, rather than bicker and whine over small, meaningless political blather.
Donating online and/or dropping off food to a food bank is one thing, organizing globally to combat stunting is another matter altogether. We’ll do the former, but I look forward to exploring ways we can contribute to the latter.