2017 Hunger Report arrives week of Thanksgiving

October 12, 2016
Carrying whatever possessions they can, women arrive in a steady trickle at a camp for internally displaced people established next to a base of the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) near Jowhar. UN photo

By Michele Learner

A year ago, the nations of the world set several of the most wide-reaching and ambitious goals in its history, including ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition within 15 years — by 2030. Bread for the World Institute’s 2017 Hunger Report, to be released Nov. 21 (the Monday before Thanksgiving), takes a closer look at what it will take to end hunger once and for all.

The world has come a long way already. From 2000 to 2015, Bread for the World and our members, along with innumerable other groups and individuals, were strong advocates for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDG period was the first-ever worldwide effort to improve human lives and further human development. Bread newsletter readers of the time may recall a phrase frequently used to summarize our main focus: “cutting hunger in half by 2015.”

The good news is that, thanks to an unprecedented effort from a wide variety of public and private groups all over the world, the goal was very nearly met by the deadline. It’s an incredible accomplishment when you think of what a complex problem hunger really is — never mind the complications that ensue when any mission, no matter how important or worthwhile, bumps up against all kinds of other priorities, interests, and viewpoints.

The world — and Bread — is not resting on its laurels. The goal of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted last year by the United States and 192 other countries.

It was clear from the beginning of the SDG period that, for all its successes in cutting hunger in half, this earlier goal had avoided some of the most difficult problems. Not surprisingly, the half of hunger that was successfully ended was the “easier” half. There were numerous reasons that hungry people fit into the “easier” category.  Some were already well on their way to being able to grow enough food for their families. Some lived in accessible places, with roads that enabled them to run small-market businesses. Some had learned a trade or had another livelihood skill. Whatever the reasons, there were millions of people for whom it was challenging, but ultimately possible, to work their way out of hunger with relatively straightforward support such as training, tools, and supportive government policies.

Now we’re embarking on the harder half of the job. “Leave no one behind” could almost be called a mantra for the SDGs. A lot of the remaining hungry people are still hungry because of conflict. War kills people and destroys infrastructure, communities, businesses, and more. Another group of people — some but not all of whom live in countries affected by conflict — are hungry because climate change, and the extreme weather events that are part of it, is destroying their ability to earn a living or even to survive. Still others are overlooked, whether intentionally or not, by their own governments, which may be too weak or too corrupt to support an economy that offers people opportunities, provide a safety net for those who cannot work, and/or treat people equally under the law.

These situations, the proverbial last mile in ending hunger, are sometimes brought together under the terms fragile state and fragility. The 2017 Hunger Report, titled Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities, will explain what these concepts mean and their implications for ending hunger. It will provide recommendations to help overcome some of the remaining obstacles to reaching the end of hunger — a goal that is obviously challenging, but also very much achievable.

Michele Learner is the associate editor of Bread for the World Institute.

War kills people and destroys infrastructure, communities, businesses, and more. 

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • Mass Incarceration: A Major Cause of Hunger

    Mass incarceration has far-reaching effects in the United States. It poses a significant barrier to ending U.S. hunger and poverty by 2030—a goal the United States adopted in 2015. But the connection is not always obvious.

  • Advancing Nutrition through Food Aid Reform

    The United States has long been a global leader in responding to humanitarian emergencies. Food assistance that includes nutritious food for pregnant women and young children is both a life-and-death matter for individuals and an economic imperative for countries.

For Faith

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

  • In Times Like These … A Pan-African Christian Devotional for Public Policy Engagement

    This devotional guide invites deepened relationship with and among Pan-Af­rican people and elected leaders in the mission to end hunger and poverty.

  • Sermon by David Beckmann at Duke University Chapel

    Remarks delivered October 1, 2017 at Duke University Chapel in Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

    Thank you for inviting me to preach here at Duke University Chapel. And I especially want to thank the Bread for the World members who have come this morning.

    Bruce Puckett urged...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017

    Unnecessarily long prison sentences, combined with the lack of rehabilitative programs for people in prison, exacerbate hunger, poverty, and existing inequalities.

    Overly harsh mandatory minimum prison sentences have contributed to the rapid increase of our country’s prison population. The...

  • Health Care Is a Hunger Issue

    Learn more about the principles that Bread for the World supports regarding health reform.