Although food prices have dropped from last year's record highs, fallout from the financial crisis is driving an increasing number of children into hunger, says organization Save the Children.
"We're not seeing the number of food price protests we saw last year, but a deceptive calm masks the fact that more children than ever are confronting chronic hunger and severe malnutrition," says Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children, the international humanitarian agency.
Save the Children is addressing increased cases of chronic and severe malnutrition around the world, while working to strengthen parents' long-term ability to support families. For the first time, more than 1 billion people are chronically hungry, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
Although wealthy nations see signs of economic recovery, many low-income countries don't—with food prices still historically high and the economic crisis stifling investment and remittances. The World Bank estimates 89 million more people will fall into extreme poverty by the end of 2010. Severe weather patterns are also destroying families' crops and forcing them to sell assets.
As poor families lose resources, a healthy diet for children quickly becomes out of reach. Food typically consumes 50 to 70 percent of poor families' income, compared to 5 to 10 percent for U.S. families.
When children—especially those under 2—don't get the nutrients they need, they may suffer permanent damage to physical and intellectual growth. Malnutrition is also the underlying cause of 3 million child deaths each year. The lost potential of the next generation undermines economic development in the countries that need it most.
October 16 is World Food Day. Save the Children experts can discuss current food crises in Guatemala, East Africa, and elsewhere, and the comprehensive strategy needed to address hunger worldwide. The agency calls on world leaders to quickly implement a promised $22 billion global food security initiative.
Save the Children is an independent organization that creates lasting change for children in need in the U.S. and around the world. Save the Children USA is a member of the International Save the Children Alliance, a global network of 29 independent Save the Children organizations working to ensure the well-being and protection of children in more than 120 countries.