World Hunger Hits Historic High of 1 Billion

The number of people going hungry every day has hit a historic high of 1 billion, or more precisely 1.02 billion, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

Millions of people who were on the brink of hunger have now been thrown into this category by the global economic crisis that resulted in lower incomes and job losses.

According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, about an additional 100 million people are in chronic hunger and poverty this year compared to last year.

And while the number of people with urgent food needs has increased, aid agencies are reporting lower donations and budget cuts.

WFP executive director Josette Sheeran said Wednesday the agency is facing "dangerous and unprecedented" funding shortfalls this year.

"Our budget for this year of assessed and approved needs is $6.7 billion and we expect from our projections and working with government to come in at $3.7 billion," Sheeran said at a press briefing ahead of meetings at the White House.

Sheeran said the agency is working to cut $3 billion from its program by reducing rations and programs throughout the world.

Its goal is to feed 108 million people in 74 countries this year.

In addition to budget cuts, aid groups are also struggling with the impact of high food prices.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization reports food prices are higher today than a year ago in more than 80 percent of developing countries.

Sheeran suggested that the food crisis is "not as dramatic at home" as in developed countries, resulting in less of a sense of urgency to help the world's hungry.

But "one out of every six [people] today is on the official list of the urgently-hungry," she said, according to "One-third of the world's children in the developing world is stunted."

The WFP official praised the United States – the world's largest food aid donor – for being an advocate to finding solutions to long term needs as well as meeting immediate needs.

The United Sates provides about half of all food aid to needy people in the world.

Besides government agencies, Christian aid agencies such as Food for the Hungry, Food for the Poor, and Lutheran World Relief have also been a major contributor in helping to feed those vulnerable to hunger.

Since 1971, Food for the Hungry has responded to physical and spiritual hunger in more than 26 countries worldwide.

In response to the current food and economic crisis, the ministry calls on Christians to pray for the world's poor and hungry and for long-term solutions to families at risk or on the brink of salvation, give financially to help the ministry respond to world hunger, and sponsor a child that will help to not only transform the child but also his/her family and community.

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