Every year, Bread for the World Institute publishes an in-depth report on the state of hunger in the United States and abroad. As part of the Institute's commitment to education on hunger, the Hunger Report strengthens the hunger advocacy movement by offering information and analysis of various aspects of the problem, its causes, and potential solutions.
Within Reach: Global Development Goals
The 2000s were a decade of extraordinary progress against global poverty. More people escaped poverty during the 2000s than any other decade in history. More importantly, progress occurred in every major region of the world.
It may not be possible to establish a direct causal link, but it is no coincidence that this progress coincided with global efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). When the MDGs were launched in the year 2000, leaders from every country in the world pledged their support. Few could have known at the time how influential these goals would become.
Since 2000, the MDGs have been the dominant global development framework, and they have galvanized public support around the world for ending hunger and extreme poverty. Scarcely a summit passes where heads of state don’t renew their support for the MDGs. Civil society groups, particularly faith-based ones, have been loyal advocates of the MDGs, dedicated to holding government leaders accountable for following through on their pledges.
Rebalancing Act: Updating U.S. Food and Farm Policies
The global agricultural system faces many daunting challenges. Seven billion people currently inhabit the Earth, and the population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. Food production must increase as climate change puts additional stress on natural resources. Nearly one billion people around the world suffer from hunger, and in the United States one in four people participate in a federal nutrition program. U.S. food and farm policies absolutely need to be aligned.
The 2012 Hunger Report recommends ways for the federal government to better respond to the agriculture and nutrition challenges of today and tomorrow. Normally change in food and farm policy occurs incrementally. The 2012 Hunger Report calls for bolder, more determined thinking about how U.S. food and farm policies can meet the global and domestic challenges of the 21st century.
Farm policies should significantly increase production of healthy foods. But farm policies alone can’t automatically improve access to nutritious foods for low-income families. Strengthening the nutrition safety net is also critical. Nutrition programs need to do more than provide food for hungry people; they must ensure that healthy food is available to all.
Our Common Interest: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition
2011 is a time of opportunity to achieve lasting progress against global hunger and malnutrition. For the United States, it is a time of renewing our commitment to this objective and strengthening partnerships with countries that are eager to work together in this common interest.
The dramatic surge in global hunger as a result of a spike in food prices in 2007-2008 galvanized support in both rich and poor countries for raising agricultural investments to the top of their development priorities. It also brought into focus the long-term consequences of hunger, especially for the youngest children. During the 1,000 days from conception to the second birthday, the consequences of malnutrition are irreversible.
Malnutrition and hunger are one and the same in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Progress toward MDG 1, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, is measured by reductions in the number of underweight children. In 2008, the distinguished medical journal The Lancet attracted international attention with a series of articles on maternal and child malnutrition—in particular finding that a third of all early childhood deaths are the result of malnutrition. Nutrition is important in meeting all of the MDGs.
A Just and Sustainable Recovery
This country is going through a time of tremendous crisis—and everyone is anticipating an economic recovery. The 2010 Hunger Report answers the question, recovery to what? It provides a vision for a more inclusive and sustainable economy.
The stock market has rebounded, yet hunger and unemployment are at their highest levels in decades, inequality continues to grow, and we face an uncertain future that is threatened by climate change. Yet we are at a hopeful moment. We have an unprecedented opportunity during this period to rebuild our economy from the foundations, putting the well-being of people and our planet at the center of our decisions.
It is time to change history for hungry people – we know it is possible. Let’s begin by investing in a just and sustainable recovery.
NEW: Hunger 2010 Interactive Edition.
Our new interactive edition offers complete access to Hunger Report 2010: A Just and Sustainable Recovery, including interactive maps and charts, videos, photos, and more.
Global Development: Charting a New Course
As the first decade of the 21st century winds down, the world is facing a hunger challenge unlike anything it has seen in the past 50 years. A steep rise in food and fuel prices has already undone some of the progress achieved in recent decades, and now a global financial crisis threatens to do worse damage still. It has been more than a decade since prices were increasing as quickly as they are now. Unlike earlier spikes in global food prices, today’s higher prices are expected to remain for up to a decade, perhaps longer.
The challenges to development are real, but they are not insurmountable. Ample proof exists that large gains have and can be made. Triumph depends on the commitment of developing countries, a commitment that must include promoting good governance and building strong institutions, establishing peace and stability, and preserving and respecting environmental resources. To make development work on a grand scale, the kind of scale envisioned in the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000, developed countries also have to do their part, providing much-needed assistance and ensuring that other policies they put in place do not harm development. This partnership between the developed and developing worlds is the key to achieving the MDGs. It will take a stepped-up effort on the part of everyone. Continuing with “business as usual” will mean that hope of achieving the MDGs will fade out of sight.
Taken together, the MDGs represent a comprehensive vision of human development—one marked by dignity, equality, and opportunity for all. The MDGs include reducing poverty and hunger, increasing school enrollment, empowering women and girls, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, halting and then reversing the spread of deadly diseases, and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Global Development: Charting a New Course analyzes the inefficiencies in the current structure of U.S. foreign assistance and maps out a series of reforms to elevate development as a foreign policy priority.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Global Development: Charting a New Course will be available online Thanksgiving 2008. The print edition will be available January 2009.
Working Harder for Working Families
A scarcity of food is rarely the cause of hunger. There is more than enough food to feed everyone in the United States. The supermarket store shelves are stocked to the ceiling. But none of this matters if families have no money in their pockets. Poverty spoils every meal.
The lone homeless person may be the most conspicuous image of poverty in the national media. Less conspicuous, but a much larger group, are the families who cycle in and out of poverty. Families most at risk are those that are just a little better off than poor, surviving on low-wage jobs until suddenly they lose their financial footing because the main wage earner's job has been eliminated or one of the family members has a medical emergency.
Liberals and conservatives agree, no hard working family should have to raise their children in poverty—and yet the sad truth is that many are. Two-thirds of all children growing up in poverty in the United States have one or more working parents, and one-third have a parent working full-time, year round.
Three decades ago, a low-wage job was enough to lift a family of three out of poverty; today, it scarcely comes close to getting them to the poverty line, and without food assistance and other government support a family struggling to get by in the low-wage economy would be on the absolute edge of desperation. Working Harder for Working Families focuses on families struggling to get by on these kinds of jobs, living in or on the edge of poverty. It recommends policies to support low-wage workers and help them and their families build assets.