World Food Day addresses hunger and nourishment
Thursday, October 10, 2019
World Food Day is celebrated annually Oct. 16 as a way for people around the world to come together to declare their commitment to eradicate worldwide hunger. The day also commemorates the founding of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.
However, it is not just about addressing the lack of food and food insecurity so many people around the world deal with on a daily basis. World Food Day also looks at a combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles that have sent the obesity rates soaring, not only in developed countries, but in low-income countries where hunger and obesity often coexist.
Worldwide, more than 670 million adults and 120 million children between the ages of 5 and 19 are obese and 40 million children under the age of 5 are overweight. On the other side of the coin, more than 820 million people suffer from hunger. While World Food Day addresses hunger and lack of food, it also recognizes the importance of nourishing people.
Janice Hermann, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension nutrition specialist, said the problem is real in Oklahoma, too.
“One in six people struggles with hunger in Oklahoma, and sadly, one in five children struggles with hunger,” Hermann said. “Nearly 16 percent of Oklahomans deal with food insecurity, which is higher than the national average of 12.5 percent. Food insecurity and health are closely linked. Those living in food insecure homes experience challenges in accessing nutritious foods. This, in turn, makes it difficult to adopt healthy eating patterns.”
It is no secret a poor-quality diet lacking in nutritious food has detrimental effects on a person’s physical and mental health. When a person lacks good, nutrient-rich foods, it increases the risk of developing health problems, including diabetes and hypertension. In addition, food insecurity intensifies the challenges of managing chronic disease such as diabetes or heart disease.
Hermann said one way to help those dealing with hunger and food insecurity is to donate to your local food pantry.
“Put some thought into your donations. Using the USDA’s MyPlate guidelines, consider donating fruits, vegetables and grains. Check to see if the food pantry has the capability of safely storing fresh or frozen foods,” she said. “Try to avoid items that are high in fat and sodium. Beverages such as 100 percent fruit juice and low-fat milk are great choices for donations, as long as they can be stored safely.”
Other healthy options to donate include low-fat yogurt and cheese and dry nonfat milk. To help ensure those in need get protein, consider donating dried peas and beans, nuts and seeds, nut butters and canned meats such as chicken, tuna and salmon. Again, if the food pantry can safety store fresh foods, fresh or frozen beef, chicken, pork and turkey are greatly appreciated, as well as fresh eggs.
Choose whole-grain options of bread, pasta, cereal, crackers and rice. Do not overlook kitchen staples such as cooking oils, spices, spaghetti sauce and shelf-stable soups and broths.
“People everywhere are dealing with hunger and food insecurity on a daily basis. World Food Day is a great way to bring attention to this issue that so many people face,” Hermann said.