It’s a sobering fact: The world produces enough food to feed everyone, yet 800 million people go hungry. On World Food Day, consumers who have the good fortune of living in countries where the grocery store shelves are always well-stocked are being reminded to do their part in reducing world hunger.
To mark the founding of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945, October 16 is designated as World Food Day.
This year’s event is themed after food security and migration: More people have been forced to flee their homes than at any other time since the Second World War, for reasons that range from climate change, poverty, political or economic pressures.
The theme falls under the FAO’s overarching goal to eliminate world hunger, a goal they say is completely within arm’s reach: Of the 129 countries monitored, 72 have already halved the proportion of people who suffer from hunger in 2015.
Over the last 20 years, child mortality rates for kids under five have also been cut by half, while extreme poverty rates have been cut in half since 1990.
Here are a few fast facts about world hunger:
* Hunger kills more people every year than malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS combined.
*Around 45% of infant deaths are related to malnutrition.
* 1.9 billion people — more than a quarter of the world’s population — are overweight.
* One third of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted.
* The world will need to produce 60% more food by 2050 to feed a growing population.
Here’s what ordinary consumers can do to help, according to the FAO:
* Start small: Take smaller portions at home or share large dishes at restaurants.
* Leave nothing behind: Keep your leftovers for another meal or use them in a different dish.
* Buy only what you need: Be smart with your shopping. Make a list of what you need and stick to it. Don’t buy more than you can use.
* Don’t be prejudiced: Buy “ugly” or irregularly shaped fruits and vegetables that are just as good but look a little different.
* Check your fridge: Store food between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius for maximum freshness and shelf-life.
* First in, first out: Try using produce that you had bought previously and, when you stack up your fridge and cupboards, move older products to the front and place newer ones in the back.
* Understand dates: “Use by” indicates a date by which the food is safe to be eaten, while “best before” means the food’s quality is best prior to that date, but it is still safe for consumption after it. Another date mark that you can find on food packages is the “Sell by” date, which is helpful for stock rotation by manufacturers and retailers.
* Donate the surplus: “Sharing is caring.”