Last week we shared information on poverty in our region. As a follow-up, I wanted to share that on October 12th, the World Hunger Summit was held in conjunction with the World Food Prize in Des Moines. This conference's focus was to "enhance public attention to both causes of and solutions to hunger, as well as to encourage increased action and partnership among Iowans."
I did not attend the conference, but by highlighting some of the food insecurity issues of Iowa, the United States and the world, maybe I can help "enhance public attention" to this topic.
The facts shared in the conference's literature included:
* 1.02 billion people in the world are malnourished. More than the combined population of the United States, Canada, and the European Union.
* 907 million people in developing countries alone are hungry.
* More than 49 million American live in food insecure households; 32.4 million adults and 16.7 million children.
* 17.3 million Americans are considered to have "very low food security", up from 11.9 million in 2007 and 8.5 million in 2000.
* 4.8 million US households sought out emergency food from a food pantry one or more times in 2008.
* Of the 19.4 million children who receive free or reduced-price lunch at school, less than half receive breakfast and only 11% have access to programs in the summer.
* 123,900 Iowa children, one in six, under 18 years of age are food insecure.
On the plus side, from October 2008 to October 2009, Iowans contributed to the fight against hunger by:
* Donating $8.72 million to organizations and agencies involved in fighting hunger.
* Gathering or distributing more than 15.6 million pounds of food, both around the state and internationally.
* Volunteering over 451,000 hours to Iowa anti-hunger advocacy projects or programs that provide food to those that need it.
You'll notice the terms "food security" and "food insecurity" used above. Are you familiar with those terms? Food security is defined as access to enough food for an active and healthy life. At a minimum, food security includes readily available, nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and the ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (e.g., without resorting to emergency food supplies, scavenging, stealing or other coping strategies).
In comparison, food insecurity is defined as limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.
Here are some final figures for you to consider. Approximately 421,000 Iowans do not have enough food to eat and 241,340 Iowans on average, received Food Assistance each month in 2007. Forty percent of the infants born in Iowa receive WIC services (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children), and requests to Iowa food pantries and soup kitchens increased 50% from 2003 ñ 2007 (from 1.4 to 2.1 million requests).
More information on the Iowa Hunger Summit can be found at: HYPERLINK "http://www.iowahungersummit.org/"