— December 27, 2011 —
Speakers and exhibits at the World Food Day event in Langley gave people plenty to chew on
Langley Secondary School hosted the community event for the day, created by the United Nations to spotlight food, hunger, poverty, food security and related issues.
Nurse Grace Wilson and other speakers at World Food Day had a message for students and other attendees. ”Every person, and I do mean you, has something special to offer the world,” she said. Langley MP Mark Warawa stood in the House of Commons to announce the community event and congratulate the community. ”
There’s a great example of how Canadians are making a difference in the world,” he said. World Food Day was a chance to find out some of the food and health programs that exist in the community but mostly it was a chance to contrast food issues for Canadians versus those in underdeveloped countries. Wilson said people’s problem is either too much food or too little.
She nursed in Zambia where she came face-to-face with the statistics. According to experts, a child dies of hunger every 10 seconds, “but it may be six,” she told a gym full of students and community members. One in seven people are chronically malnourished (able to obtain less than one cup of food per day) and that 195 million children in the world will suffer from malnutrition this year.
Children chronically malnourished have many health affects. Wilson explained that, if they make it to adulthood, they are unable to care for their children. ”Can you guys see how we’re kind of setting up a cycle here?” she asked the audience. Despite that, the village leaders she encountered pleaded with her for one thing and it wasn’t food. ”
Our biggest concern is our kids getting an education,” village leaders told her. She explained that they knew it was education that would ultimate break the cycle of poverty and hunger. Wilson went through a quick list of basic vitamins and minerals to explain the impact of living without them. She noted that half a million children go blind each year due to a lack of vitamin A and once vision is gone, it’s gone. She added that those that don’t go blind often can’t fight off infections.
The crowd was told the solution isn’t simple. Fruits and vegetables that are available are often overcooked, destroying their nutrients and a chicken costs a month’s wages so they have to find other sources of protein. Wilson then delved into the food dilemmas of the developed world. One billion people on Earth go to bed hungry each night, but 1.5 billion are overweight or worse, and that’s killing people. She noted that on both ends of the spectrum the key issue is quality of food, not quantity. Plenty of people in developed nations are malnourished due to the western diet and many people struggle with eating disorders.
“We have food problems with how much we eat and some have problems with how little we eat,” Wilson said. The inability of millions of people in the world lacking basic nutrition has implications for the entire planet, according to Lawrence Yu, a university student studying economics. Yu spent six weeks last summer teaching in a slum school near New Delhi. Despite India having one of the fastest growing economies in the world, there is still massive poverty and a growing gap between the rich and poor, he noted. ”You would see BMWs drive by while kids are starving, begging on the streets,” he noted. In poor countries, people spend about 85 per cent of their income on food and their income is inconsistent. About 2.5 billion people live on $2 or less per day.
Yu admitted that when he was in high school, he never thought of people abroad and global issues. ”As I grow older, I kind of regret that I didn’t get more involved earlier,” he said. Yu also issued a call to action, urging the audience to “Think bigger.”
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PHOTO CAPTION: Lawrence Yu is studing economics and taught at a slum school in India last year where he saw first hand how food policy and poverty impact people.
Photograph by: Heather Colpitts, Langley Advance Speakers and presenters at the local event marking World Food Day urged those attending to do something to make the world a better place.