Last spring I wrote an op-ed about the looming famine in the Sahel region of Africa. Drought and conflict were causing massive food shortages for millions of people across at least eight countries.
Humanitarian agencies and donors did take action. Lives were saved. A disaster on the scale of the East Africa famine of 2011 was avoided.
But by no means is the Sahel out of the woods, as hunger still is very much present there. As Rene McGuffin of the World Food Programme says, “The response was effective...but malnutrition rates remain unacceptably high throughout much of the region.”
As this Season of Giving has arrived it's important to remember what the individual can do to lead the fight against hunger worldwide. Even just going online and playing the game FreeRice can raise funds to feed children in Niger, one of the Sahel countries. The rice will go towards the school feeding program that helps children fight off hunger and be able to get an education.
Imagine if on Christmas Eve or Day people everywhere actually feed children in Niger simply by going online and playing this award-winning trivia game.
There are many different ways you can help. Just this month I sponsored a student from the College of Mount St. Joseph, Elizabeth Paff, who ran and raised money to feed children a life-saving food called Plumpy'nut. This food treats children with severe malnutrition. The donations, some still coming in, go to a non-profit organization called Edesia that produces the Plumpy’Nut and is currently making it for the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, one of the Sahel countries.
Writing to your representative in Congress asking them to fully fund the Food for Peace program is another significant step. Food for Peace is the U.S. program that responds to hunger emergencies all around the world in a effort to promote stability. Food for Peace funding is part of the Farm Bill which is currently stalled in Congress. If that delay continues Food for Peace funding will run out. To fight hunger at home Feeding America is asking Congress to fund food stamps and the TEFAP program that supports foodbanks.
There is enough food in the world for everyone. Hunger can be defeated here at home and abroad. What can make that happen is within each individual – the holiday spirit of giving.
See also: Feed an Invisible Guest This Holiday.