Thursday, October 15, 2009

A BILLION Hungry People - No Media Frenzy

In this morning's newspaper, the UN food agency reports that the number of hungry people has increased to 1.2 BILLION and will continue to rise if the right kind of help is not given. The short article about this appears on the World News page (page 7) rather than on the front page where I think it belongs. There is no editorial addressing this either. The paper does have a local focus, but this issue is so huge, and growing, that I think it should have had a lot more attention.

Has hunger in other parts of the world become just a background noise that we can ignore? After all we have heard the refrain so often. "People are starving in ________.
" Well," some folk say, "we send food, and then more food. and things never improve , why don't they help themselves?" I understand why they say that but, that response ignores a lot of factors like wars, displacement, prolonged drought and the fact that agricultural aid to increase food production has dropped.

When I donate money towards world hunger, as I did today, after reading the newest numbers, I choose agencies that work toward long term results, like The Mennonite Central Committee's Food for All program. My point is a lot more people might do that if they knew the benefits.

Shouldn't we take care of our own first? That's something I've heard people say too. So, what about local hunger? Food banks in our area report that demand has increased because of higher unemployment and other factors. The Thanksgiving food drive hasn't reached it's goal yet. My daughter and son-in-law's business participated this year, as they did last year. The amount of food they collected from their customers was slightly lower this year (847 pounds), but since they have fewer customers due to the economic downturn, I'd say they had a good result, although they had hoped for more donations. A local church offered a free Thanksgiving meal and had record numbers of diners. I am not surprised, since people on assistance (government income support programs like workfare and ODSP) often have a very hard time paying for both rent and food. These are the very same people that are accused of spending all their money on drink and cigs. I can tell you from experience - most recipients of government assistance don't do that. Yet, the myth endures.

Meanwhile, the media give us more and more infotainment (sorry, I hate the word, but that's what they call it) and less and less hard news.

Maybe it's our fault. We don't want to hear about it and it doesn't sell papers, or make people click on Internet ads. Are the people that run the publishing conglomerates right and what we want is more fake news - the latest about the celebrities of the moment? Or, could the real news actually sell?


Lori Hahnel said...

I'm so with you on this, Diane. I think we've become so used to large numbers of fellow humans starving that we forget how to respond. I guess this kind of story isn't sexy enough to sell papers. But good on you for making a noise!

Susan said...

There's a quick, easy, and free way to give to this cause. Just go to the Hunger Site at and click to give.

Michelle said...

I don't do much when it comes to food donations as I have other charities that I donate to that are very near and dear to my heart. Unfortunately, I can't help them all.

But, in the states, this is the time of year were most people DO donate food to families in need. Local grocery stores set up collection bins as well.

D. B. Reynolds said...

What's a billion hungry people compared to bubble boy who was actually hiding in his attic on his dad's orders?

Clearly our priorities are skewed. This is a good time of year to remember our local food banks and homeless shelters, especially now with so many more people out of jobs and looking for help.


Selestial said...

I DO think this should have made bigger news, and people should be concerned.

However, the reason it probably didn't isn't because it's unimportant (it's not), but because it isn't truly immediately addressable. Like you said, there have been starving people in _______ for as long as I can remember. Sadly, world hunger isn't going away. Things that tend to make the front page are "new" news. Things that are immediate, and hopefully addressable.

Do bogus news stories regarding people out for attention make the front page? Of course. But let's pretend for a second that balloon-boy had actually been in the balloon. It is a distressing, but "immediately" addressable story. Get the balloon down safely. Get the boy out. In the long run, people won't remember it, but with all the bad news now, people WANT and NEED that type of story.

This is a good reminder though to donate when and what you can because there are a lot of people in need.