Farm Progress

Larry Harper Young Writers Contest winner shares how hunger impacts the U.S. and the world.

May 5, 2017

3 Min Read
HELPING THE HUNGRY: For Dekalb FFA member Jessica Janorschke (left) receives her award for second place in the Larry Harper Young Writers contest from Missouri Ruralist College Farmer columnist Laura Bardot.

Editor's note: Each year Missouri Ruralist sponsors the Larry Harper Young Writers Contest. This year we asked FFA members to share ways that those involved in agriculture can bridge the communication or knowledge gap found between those in the industry and consumers. Winners were announced at the Missouri State FFA Convention April 21. This is the second-place essay, written by Jessica Janorschke of the Dekalb FFA Chapter.

By Jessica Janorschke

Technology today opens lines of communication providing us with much information, but also misinformation. Agriculture is no exception. One agriculture related area that we need to bridge the gap on is hunger.

Hunger. A word we associate with the sound of a grumbling stomach or the sight of a juicy steak, but that’s not what comes to mind for the 795 million people who experience world hunger. This issue negatively affects people from all walks of life, but can be especially devastating in children. The biggest reason world hunger is so problematic is because so many people are unaware of how severe it is.

According to the United Nations World Food Program, any amount of calories less than 2,000 per day is categorized as hunger. Malnutrition can occur because of poverty, in times of war, and in areas of famine. Undernourishment in countries such as Kenya and India can be especially severe, as it intensifies the effects of diseases like malaria, which occurs when a parasite invades the red blood cells. Severe symptoms of malaria include fever, impaired consciousness and abnormal bleeding. Globally, out of every nine people, one is hungry when they go to bed.

A child dies every 10 seconds from hunger related diseases. That’s 3.1 million deaths a year, accounting for nearly half of all childhood deaths worldwide. In the United States alone, 16.2 million children struggle with hunger. One reason childhood hunger is so problematic is because these children are just developing. In a child’s first 1,000 days of life, the brain develops its ability to learn and grow. Without the essential nutrients food provides, the damage can be irreversible. Children can develop intellectual disabilities, and have difficulty learning and thinking.

Bridging the gap will help others understand hunger’s effects and how they can become involved. It’s the most important step in solving world hunger, and it begins with our youth. For instance, the Missouri Youth Institute, a program at the University of Missouri, gathers student leaders to engage in the global fight against world hunger. Participating students present research and recommendations, as well as interact with global leaders on hunger related challenges throughout the world. This helps to create awareness and generate new ideas for solving these issues.

One way Missouri farmers can help bridge this gap is by gleaning their fields after a harvest. Oftentimes healthy food is left in the field because it isn’t pretty enough to be sold in supermarkets, or because mechanical harvesting misses a lot of crops. According to Linda Tozer from the Society of St. Andrew, 98 billion pounds of food go to waste in the United States because of this. Farmers don’t even have to glean the field themselves; FFA students often use this as a way to volunteer. Awareness enhances these efforts.

We can educate others, engage in relief efforts and advocate for world hunger. Students can raise food to donate in their local area, such as collecting eggs from hens their FFA chapter cares for, or collect unserved food from restaurants in their community. If we continue to be creative and focus our talents on coming up with ideas like these, one day world hunger can be diminished through awareness.

Ten seconds. In those 10 seconds, the time it takes to tie your shoe, a child dies from a hunger related disease. St. Teresa of Calcutta once said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Perhaps now when you think of hunger, you won’t think about that juicy steak, but instead about our ability to together feed the world.

 

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