I Am Starving: Flippant Phrase or Fearful Fact?

As middle class American, I often hear people say this when one of their meals is a little later than normal. Maybe they want a simple doughnut or some other small item rather than a regular meal.

Today I got an e-mail from one of the most outstanding humanitarian organizations: World Vision. They said that one of eight children never reaches the age of five, and hunger is the leading cause of the tragedies.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that about 800 million of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one out of nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2012-2014. In Sub-Saharan Africa, over one in four people are undernourished. Stunting affects 161 million children, according to the U.N. Children’s Fund. Undernutrition magnifies the effect of virtually every disease, including malaria and measles. Leading causes of hunger include poverty, harmful economic systems, conflict, and climate change.

I live only a ten minute drive from Detroit. With nearly 700,000 people, it is frequently called the poorest major city in the U.S. 39% of its residents live below the poverty level ($24,250 for a family of four). Many children get government-funded school lunches, and those may be their main meals. However, they still get much more than a child in Haiti, most of Africa, and many other places where poverty is far more severe.

There are strong reasons for hope in the poorest countries. Micronutrients (such as iodized salt and vitamins) can greatly help. It costs only a few pennies for enough iodine in salt to protect a person from a neck goiter for his or her lifetime. Special peanut butter supplements are very effective. More publicity is being given to the subject of severe malnutrition (a term that has largely replaced starvation). Many of the organizations on my website and thousands of others are making a difference.

Yes, sometimes I get hungry. However, it would be a blatant lie to say that I am starving. Go to www.mfkhaiti.org (Meds and Foods for Kids) and watch their brief video. Afterward, I doubt that you will say you are starving.

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