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Nyiransabimana Seraphine harvests sweet potatoes in Kigali, Rwanda. MCC is providing food aid around the world, including food shipments and support for farmers, as the number of undernourished people is increasing. Melissa Engle

Nyiransabimana Seraphine harvests sweet potatoes in Kigali, Rwanda. MCC is providing food aid around the world, including food shipments and support for farmers, as the number of undernourished people is increasing. Melissa Engle

MCC responds to hunger crisis

Amanda Thorsteinsson
July 14, 2009

WINNIPEG, Man.—Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) provided a record amount of food aid around the world from April 2008 to March 2009 in response to disasters, skyrocketing food prices and climate change.

MCC's food aid, which totaled $15,750,000 U.S. during the fiscal year, includes agricultural development projects, food shipments from Canada and the U.S. and food purchases in other countries.

Global food prices remain high, after spiking last year, and food needs are growing around the world. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations recently warned that the number of undernourished people is on track to reach more than 1 billion in 2009—the highest number ever.

This crisis may contribute to greater povery in the long run, according to Willie Reimer, MCC's food, disaster and material resources director. When families have to double or triple their food expenditures, parents inevitably end up spending less on other things. Children are pulled out of school to earn money for their family, or because parents can no longer afford school fees.

"For many people, education is the future," Reimer said. "They pin their hopes on their children. When families are forced to spend less on their children's education, there is a far-reaching impact."

Children pulled out of school grow up without some of the basic skills they may need to earn their own livelihoods and buy food for their own children.

The causes of hunger are complex. The cost of fuel and fertilizer have risen, driving up the cost of many agricultural products. Irregular weather conditions are also plaguing many farmers.

Violent conflicts also contribute to hunger. For example, war from 1983 to 2005 in southern Sudan disrupted agriculture, displaced people and prevented farmers from passing their knowledge onto future generations, Reimer said.

But while the number of hungry people has grown, there is still enough food produced in the world to feed everyone, according to Reimer. The challenge is to make sure food is available to people in need.

MCC is continuing to provide emergency food aid, help farmers increase their yields and advocate for just political and economic responses to the global hunger crisis.

Here is what you can do:
Pray for the people who are hungry that they may have enough to eat, soon. Pray for the people struggling to provide comfort and food to the hungry.
Live simply so that your lifestyle in this interconnected world is not a burden on the poor.
Speak out on behalf of the poor and hungry so that they are not forgotten by governments.

Donations for MCC's response to the global hunger crisis should be designated "food for all" and may be made online at mcc.org/donate or to any MCC office. Canadian donors may also donate to MCC's account at the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.

More information is available online at mcc.org/foodforall.

Amanda Thorsteinsson is a writer for MCC.