9 Million Will Die in Coronavirus-Worsened ‘Scandal of Starvation’ Says Gospel for Asia; One trillion dollars’ worth of food wasted globally each year, reveals new report for World Hunger Day
It’s estimated that nine million people will die in a coronavirus-worsened ‘scandal of starvation’ this year, according to a new report today marking World Hunger Day — an annual awareness event — on May 28.
Yet astonishingly, families, restaurants and hospitals around the world will throw away $1 trillion worth of food in 2020, enough to feed one in every four people on the planet, says Gospel for Asia’s report The Scandal of Starvation in a World of Plenty.
Hunger increased around the world for the third successive year in 2018 — the most recent year for statistics — with more than 820 million people not getting enough to eat, according to the report. It cites South Asia as the worst-hit region, home to two-thirds of the world’s malnourished children.
Coronavirus lockdowns have sent unemployment skyrocketing among the poorest of the poor in many developing nations — without safety nets such as jobless benefits or stimulus checks to head-off hunger.
“The coronavirus itself is a deadly, terrible event, but more people are dying — and will die — of starvation,” said Dr. K.P. Yohannan, founder of Texas-based Gospel for Asia (GFA World, www.gfa.org) that is feeding tens of thousands across South Asia during the crisis.
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Coronavirus ‘Scandal of Starvation’
‘The Extent of Hidden Hunger is Alarming’
While millions live every day with the reality of hunger, affluent nations like the U.S. waste massive amounts of food, even though almost 40 million Americans — including 11 million children — were labeled “food insecure” in 2018
“The extent of ‘hidden hunger’ is alarming, even in wealthy countries,” Yohannan said. “Yet while the world produces a harvest big enough to feed everyone on the planet one-and-a-half times over, a third of all the food produced goes to waste. It’s horribly shocking.”
There’s a growing backlash, however, against reckless food waste. Launched in Delhi, India in 2014, the Robin Hood Army — a movement of volunteers who collect and distribute leftover food from restaurants and other businesses — has served more than 26 million meals in 150-plus cities in a dozen countries, all from “surplus” food that would have been discarded.
Meanwhile, amid COVID-19 lockdowns, local GFA churches and community teams are distributing staples such as rice. Thousands of congregations are involved, bringing food and water to migrant workers facing starvation.
More than 90 percent of India’s laborers have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus. As desperation mounts, Outlook India reported that one mother threw her five children into the Ganges River to “end their suffering.”
A GFA field worker — spotlighting personal safety in the midst of an ocean of need — said social distancing was impossible as desperate crowds descend on relief teams bringing food. “In the face of hunger, social distancing will always come second,” he said.
At one location, more than 600 migrant workers swarmed a relief vehicle. “God forbid but, if I die, please take care of my wife and two girls,” said local bishop Martin Mor Aprem Episcopa, who leads a GFA team that delivers food every day. “We know the risk we’re taking, but we must go out and keep doing what we’re doing… this is sometimes the only food they’ll get in three days.”
One grateful villager — who had been scavenging in the fields to survive — said: “We were worried and anxious, thinking about how long we would have to suffer.”
“The Prime Minister of India and government officials everywhere are doing their best to care for the poor and needy and helping our church workers to serve their neighbors,” said Yohannan. “It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. But one person can make a difference. As Mother Teresa said, ‘If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.'”
“It’s as simple as the words of Jesus: ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat.'”
Coronavirus ‘Scandal of Starvation’ in U.S. As Well
Starvation and hunger are not only issues in Asia due to COVID-19. As businesses have closed their doors, record numbers of people in the United States have lost businesses, lost jobs, and filed for unemployment. The suicide rate across the country has skyrocketed. Children are going hungry at home as well as abroad. Hopefully as businesses are able to reopen in the U.S. and around the world, those companies that survive the enforced lockdowns will be able to start bringing economic prosperity back.
GFA COVID-19 resources are online at https://press.gfa.org/coronavirus-press-kit/
Gospel for Asia (GFA World, www.gfa.org) is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions across Asia, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,000 clean water wells drilled, over 11,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 200,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.
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