About World Food Day

One in 9 of the world’s more than 7 billion people struggle with chronic hunger. World Food Day seeks to raise hunger awareness and encourage people to take action.

This year’s World Food Day is slated for Sunday, Oct. 16. It celebrates the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which marks its 71st anniversary this year. Achieving global food security is FAO’s core mission. The organization’s three goals are to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; to eliminate poverty; and to promote the sustainable management of natural resources.

At the UC Food Observer, we think every day should be World Food Day. We’re proud to be part of the University of California’s Global Food Initiative, which seeks to address one of the most compelling challenges facing all of us: how to sustainably and nutritiously feed a growing world population.

World Food Day is a time to take personal and collective action. To inspire your thinking, the UC Food Observer staff has collected some #goodreads and a video for you to consider. #globalfood

Research, Policy and Practice

Hunger is inextricably linked to other issues, including poverty and growing inequality…in America and across the globe. One of the nation’s leading experts on childhood hunger and food policy is scholar/activist Dr. Jan Poppendieck. She recently told us this about the need for universal, free school meals:

“On the access front, I’m even more convinced than ever that we need to move towards universal, free school meals. The part of the means tested school meals that originally engaged me was the stigma that qualifying imposed on children and families. The stigma migrates from the child to the food. So in school communities, food may come to be perceived as second quality, even if it’s pretty good. Kids call it welfare, county or jail food. Being associated with poverty undermines the reputation of the food. I hear it from food service directors from all over the country, all the time. In New York they call it ‘free-free.'”

Read our Q&A with Dr. Poppendieck.

Hunger increasingly affects college students, as well. UC ANR’s Nutrition Policy Institute recently published results of what may be the nation’s largest survey of food insecurity among college students. Learn more about the issue – and actions being taken to address hunger on UC’s campuses – here.

UC Riverside graduate student Fortino Morales is addressing food insecurity on his campus and in his community through R’ Garden. He recently shared this about his work:

“We can’t fix all the problems, but it’s really also about

Fortino Moralis III
Fortino Morales III

starting to ask deeper questions about the food system, sustainability and food access. The work is both theoretical and experiential. The garden provides a tangible answer to some of these things.”

Editor’s Note: Fortino is a UC Global Food Initiative 30 Under 30 award winner. Learn more about the other award recipients


Programs Combating Hunger

Bill Shore has spent more than thirty years working to end childhood hunger in America. He’s the co-founder of Share Our Strength, a national organization that earns high marks for its work. Bill recently told us this:

“Today in America, one in five kids lives in a family that struggles to put enough food on the table every day.

Here’s what that means: Sometimes the pantry is completely empty. Sometimes mom skips meals so the kids can eat. Sometimes there is enough during the school year, but overwhelming hardship during the summer, when school meals disappear. Sometimes parents are forced to make terrible choices between food and rent or food and medicine.”

Read our Q&A with Bill.

Katie Stagliano became concerned about hunger when she was 9. She quickly harnessed the power of gardening in response to what she saw…and founded a national organization, Katie’s Krops, with 100 youth-led gardens for those in need. She recently said this:

“Throughout my work with Katie’s Krops I’ve seen the ties between hunger and obesity. Often times those who are food insecure only eat packaged and processed food, which are basically empty calories from soda and junk food. This is especially true in food deserts. As a result, many people who struggle to put food on the table often also face obesity. This is why I am so passionate about the work we do at Katie’s Krops. Youth are not only part of the solution to hunger, but they are also part of the solution to obesity in food insecure individuals.”

Like Fortino, Katie is a UC Global Food Initiative 30 Under 30 award winner, and at 17, she was the youngest recipient. Read her story here.


Global Perspectives

Hilal Elver is the United Nations Special Provocateur on the Right to Food. She’s also a UC academic, serving as a Global Distinguished Fellow at UCLA’s Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy and as a visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara. She recently told us this:

“We still are not able to eliminate hunger entirely. Almost 1 billion people are chronically hungry even if the World Bank and the FAO criterion for measuring hunger understate its reality in the lives of many people. Now climate change makes the effort of eliminating hunger even more difficult as it generates more food insecure people due to adverse impact of global warming, especially in countries and regions that have already huge hunger and food insecurity problems.

We also have a serious malnutrition problem that is universal in scope. Child and adult obesity is becoming a worldwide epidemic. Almost 3 billion people are suffering from being overweight and obesity, along with undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies. Ironically, these triple malnutrition problems can be found in every country and society, and often afflict the same person.”

Read our Q&A with Dr. Elver.

Kenneth Quinn is the president of the World Food Prize Foundation and a former ambassador. In a wide-ranging Q&A with the UC Food Observer, Dr. Quinn spoke about the importance of roads in addressing food security across the globe. He also shared his concern about declining public investment in agricultural research.


Student Video Contest

Across the University of California system, thousands of students are working with faculty and researchers to address critical food systems issues through scientific research. The UC Davis World Food Center recently held a video contest to highlight student research in food and nutrition.

Kat Vang. Credit: Karin Higgins

Kat Vang, a re-entry undergraduate student studying sustainable agriculture at UC Davis, received an honorable mention for her entry.

Kat has an interesting background, including previous experience working on an organic farm in Spain. We will be sharing more about her work in a future blog post.

Kat’s research is focused on the Hmong community in Minnesota. Her goals are to support small farms, increase food access and reduce food insecurity in communities.

We spoke with Kat this afternoon to offer our congratulations; she shared this:

“It is amazing to witness the topic of food security being engaged on such a large and influential platform like World Food Day. As a young researcher invested in food security innovations, I am deeply encouraged by the dialogue and particpation that I am seeing on a larger scale. I believe that the  connections and conversations that happen during World Food Day have the capacity to launch the kind of innovations and collaborations necessary to build a more equitable food system in which everyone is afforded healthy food that is grown in a socially responsible manner.”

We were really taken with Kat’s video. Be sure to watch it.