Pope Francis greets pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 18, 2019. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
In a video message for World Food Day yesterday, Pope Francis expressed concern that tons of food is being thrown away while people continue to die for lack of food.
“For humanity, hunger is not only a tragedy but it is also shameful,” Pope Francis said in a video sent to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The pope noted that the number of people struggling with hunger and food insecurity has been growing and that the current pandemic will further exacerbate this problem.
“The current crisis shows us that concrete policies and actions are needed to eradicate hunger in the world. Sometimes dialectical or ideological discussions take us far from reaching this goal, and we allow our brothers and sisters to continue dying for lack of food,” Francis said.
He pointed to a scarcity of investment in agriculture, unequal food distribution, the consequences of climate change, and an increase in conflicts as causes of hunger in the world.
“On the other hand, tons of food is thrown away. Faced with this reality, we cannot remain insensitive or paralyzed. We are all responsible,” the pope said.
World Food Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the FAO, which was born in the wake of World War II and is based in Rome.
“Through these 75 years, the FAO has learned that it is not enough to produce food; it is also important to ensure that food systems are sustainable and provide healthy and affordable diets for all. It is about adopting innovative solutions that can transform the way we produce and consume food for the well-being of our communities and our planet, thereby strengthening resilience and long-term sustainability,” Pope Francis said.
According to the FAO’s most recent report, the number of people affected by hunger globally has been rising since 2014.
The United Nations estimates that 690 million people went hungry in 2019 — 10 million more than in 2018.
The FAO report, published in July this year, also predicts that the COVID-19 pandemic will have caused 130 million more people worldwide to have chronic hunger by the end of 2020.
According to the UN report, Asia has the greatest number of undernourished people, followed by Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The report said that, if current trends continue, Africa is expected to have more than half of the world’s chronically hungry people by 2030.
The FAO is one of several UN organizations headquartered in Rome, along with the UN’s World Food Programme, which was recently awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to “prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”
“A brave decision would be to establish with the money that is used in arms and other military expenses ‘a world fund’ to be able to definitively defeat hunger and help the development of the poorest countries,” Pope Francis said.
“In this way, many wars and the emigration of so many of our brothers and their families who are forced to leave their homes and countries in search of a more dignified life would be avoided.”