World Takes Food Seriously for a Day

People in more than 150 countries worldwide are being inspired to raise awareness on the plight of the world's hungry and encourage action against hunger today as part of World Food Day 2007.

The day commemorates the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. This year the theme is "The Right to Food," which serves as a reminder of every person's right to have regular access to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and culturally acceptable food.

"The Right to Food is based on the premise that every person – man, woman and child – must have access at all times to food that is sufficient in quality, quantity and variety and must be free of harmful substances," explained the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the humanitarian relief and development agency of the worldwide United Methodist Church.

An estimated 854 million people around the world remain undernourished. Hunger and malnutrition are caused by poverty, income disparities, lack of access to health care, education, clean water and sanitary living conditions.

As part of its response, UMCOR supports the Foods Resource Bank – an ecumenical organization where U.S. farmers designate acreage for growing projects. Communities poll their resources to cover the cost of production and then the proceeds from the crop are used to help eliminate hunger overseas through UMCOR and other denominational agencies.

The United Methodist relief arm also runs a Sustainable Agriculture and Development program which introduces new methods of farming in poor areas transforming communities with poor nutritional standards to centers of crop production, market goods, and family income, according to UMCOR.

UMCOR encourages its members to observe World Food Day by participating in the UMCOR-sponsored teleconference and the World Food Day USA events and activities.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, World Vision is scheduled to join with the Senate Hunger Caucus and the North American Millers' Association to host the "Broken Bread" event. Participants, including Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, will eat a simple meal of porridge to help them identify with families affected by hunger and AIDS.

"On World Food Day, this program focuses attention on hunger, poverty and their links to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and thanks the U.S. Senate for funding the food aid that helps millions survive," said World Vision in a statement.

Students from more than 60 colleges and universities across the nation will join the Broken Bread events on their campuses on Tuesday using the same corn-soy blend of food aid that is distributed overseas for relief.