World Hunger: By the Numbers

Tomorrow, Oct. 16, is World Food Day, a day designated by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1979 to bring attention to world hunger and food (in)security.

Flash forward nearly 30 years, and the world is facing not just a credit crisis (as we watched the Dow tank last week), but an ongoing food-price crisis that is proving catastrophic, particularly in the developing world, a crisis that is causing riots and deepening the wounds of mass starvation.

In lieu of attempting to dissect the hows, whys and what-ifs of the world’s hunger crisis, I’m going to paint this gargantuan, mind-boggling and dire picture with numbers instead. It won’t solve anything, but it will get us talking, and maybe even get us thinking and doing and creating -- who knows – some itty bitty shred of change.

6.7 billion: The current world population (based on July 2008 estimates from CIA World Factbook

923 million: the world’s “undernourished” as defined by the FAO (consuming less than the minimum calories necessary to maintain minimum bodily functions.)

907 million: undernourished in the developing world (source: FAO)

1.4 billion: people living on $1.25 a day or less, according to the World Bank

300 million: U.S. population in 2006

29 million: food stamp recipients as of July 2008

7: dollars, the maximum daily allotment for a family of four on food stamps for 2008-2009 (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP)

72 million: obese people in US, 2005-2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

33: percentage of Americans who are obese (source: CDC, 2005-2006)

$3.16: 2 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola Classic *

$6.29: One gallon organic milk*

$.79: Cinnamon “crispy puffed corn” twists on the Why Pay More Value menu at Taco Bell

$5.89: 18-ounce box of Cheerios*

*Prices for grocery items were found on

When was the last time you figured out just how much you spend on food every day? I know I’m in the dark on that front. Maybe instead of eating on a food stamp budget, the challenge here is to eat ourselves out of house and home before buying another crumb of food at the supermarket and making do with what we have.

By Kim ODonnel |  October 15, 2008; 12:01 PM ET Food Politics
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Lets just eat some brownies.. with all the problems around us... It is hard to think about all of these issues..

I am a member of a social networks site... and we recieved a post on Brownies and wanted to hear you opinions of it … we have a bake sale coming up…and want it to turn out good for our daughter… please advise…thanks

Posted by: andy abraham | October 15, 2008 1:12 PM

I have SO much food in my fridge, freezer and pantry that I could probably live off it of for 2 months. And that's with a family of 4!!!

Going to raid the freezer tonight instead of grocery shopping...


Posted by: Jaden, Steamy Kitchen | October 15, 2008 2:52 PM

Noble goal, but it's not going to happen in the Cubefarm house!

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | October 15, 2008 3:05 PM

I did something "similar" thing the other day: I went through the pantry and put most things that weren't already opened (like cereal) or in mind for the next week's meals and put them in a box and gave it to the church food pantry. My mom volunteers there and tells me they have 3x as many clients as last year. And they need ready-to-eat foods, not "gourmet" gifts that you didn't eat either.

Posted by: TriciaGray | October 15, 2008 3:16 PM

We did this before we went on vacation last summer, a tip I picked up from one of Michelle Singletary's readers. I didn't grocery shop for three weeks prior to our departure. We changed some eating habits but is was fun. When we ran out of milk for cold cereal (about 2 weeks in) we switched to oatmeal with a little cream on it. We got very creative with pasta and stretched the meat we had in house to last more meals. The garden was going so we had fresh vegetables the whole time, but we also worked at going through any frozen items that had been opened and partially used. We cooked legumes in the crock pot and made corn bread. Had rice in a variety of ways. Made pizza from scratch to use up olives, marinated artichokes and random bits of cheese. I think we stretched our imaginations and then used the grocery money we'd saved to pay for our food on vacation.

I realize that world hunger is more serious than cleaning out the pantry, but it was a good exercise and reminded us that we are lucky to have so much.

Posted by: Steph | October 15, 2008 5:41 PM

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