It is difficult to find overall statistics, but one thing is clear, far too many children are hungry. Looking at emerging economies, you will see tens of millions of hungry children. Sadly, the problem of early childhood hunger is not confined to emerging economies. It is everywhere.
As many as 1 in every 8 children in the world is at risk of hunger, or is currently experiencing some form of food deprivation. Three million children die every year from malnutrition and the survivors suffer impacts that can last for their entire lives.
Hungry Children Around the World
For many years, the number of children and people, in general, facing food shortages had decreased. That was until the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the number of hungry children rose past 300 million. That’s a mind-boggling number of children.
The single largest population of hungry people lives in Asia, with half the global total. That means over 400 million people are facing hunger and malnutrition in Asia alone. In Africa, the number of children who face a daily lack of food is in the tens of millions.
While it may seem like Europe and North America are immune to this problem, they aren’t. In Europe, over 30 million people face hunger or food shortages, and that number has likely increased since it was first published in 2018. Half or more of those who are suffering are children.
With the current fighting in Ukraine, a food-shortage disaster is looming over the entire world. Ukraine was responsible for a tremendous amount of food, and despite the best efforts of the UN and other nations, the amount of food produced in Ukraine is reaching record lows.
This brings us to our closest neighbor, South America. Six million children in Latin American countries are currently underfed or facing severe hunger. Latin America and the Caribbean are under the global average, but that means 9.1% of people still struggle with hunger.
In the United States
Many people consider food insecurity a problem in other parts of the world, but it hits home too. In some states, such as Louisiana, as many as 25% of families struggle with providing food for their families. Added together, as many as 12 million children in North America are impacted by hunger.
In the United States, we have very accurate data about food deprivation. As many as 22% of black children, 18% of Latin Americans, and almost 10% of white Americans are struggling with hunger. With the inflated cost of food in 2022 and 2023, this number is set to increase considerably.
A reminder of this vulnerability came in 2020 when schools were shut down. The absence of school-provided meals puts millions of American children at great risk for malnutrition. The threat of more disruptions to school and other aid programs only increases this risk.
Hunger Is a Global Problem
Perhaps the most troubling part of the problem is that enough food is produced to feed everyone in the world with tons to spare. The issue is that this food can’t reach those who need it most. It takes considerable involvement from corporations and nonprofits to face this growing crisis.
It is estimated that by the end of 2022, nearly a billion people will confront the specter of hunger. No nation or society is immune from the impact of hunger. Hundreds of millions of children suffer, and one child dies every ten seconds from malnutrition.
Climate change and human conflicts are making the situation a lot worse. Combine that with the emerging threats of various diseases, and people are more at risk now than ever. Whether they live in a rural village in Asia or in the shadow of skyscrapers in the United States, the hungry are everywhere.
Confronting the Problem of Hungry Children
The problem with solving world hunger is that there is no single cause. From environmental issues to infrastructure, each region has unique challenges. Much of the progress in alleviating world hunger has been erased by recent events and emerging conflicts in the world.
Still, there are those who try to help put an end to the suffering of hunger. Against Global Hunger is an organization that is fighting to provide meals to those who are most vulnerable. We have distributed over 14 million meals to hungry children in the United States and around the world.
Many people in the world sit on the brink of disaster. A single natural disaster or disruption to their society could cause massive famine to break out. We need all the help we can get to make sure that this catastrophe is averted and does not bring more long-term suffering and hungry children.