Monday, March 9, 2015

Most of Us Have a #HungerStory

by Tricia Beal, CEO, Farm Journal Foundation

Agriculture has a different face and different meaning to different people. But an important lesson that I have learned over the years is that almost everyone has a personal story related to hunger. I have seen this clearly through the best part of my job: working with bright, talented, farmers, ranchers, and university students across the United States. Agriculture, nutrition, and hunger alleviation ultimately take center stage in our conversations, and this quickly turns to our own personal hunger stories, or those of people we know. Through all these experiences, an important lesson I have learned is to never make assumptions because I have met people who I never imagined could have directly experienced hunger themselves.

My personal #HungerStory is taking place today in urban St. Louis where I live with my family. Like many cities in the U.S., St. Louis has a significant population of homeless veterans and heartbreakingly, hunger is a central challenge for this population. Seeds of hope are blooming here with many excellent organizations, such as the St. Patrick Center, stepping up to create holistic programs that empower people to build more secure lives through vocational programs, social services and housing. These models of change should be shouted from the rooftops because they are making real and meaningful impact.

The Farm Journal Foundation created the infographic below to show the different faces of hunger and the impact of poor nutrition. When you look across the diversity of hunger, it is clear that it manifests differently in people’s lives, with a range of devastating results. Though the underlying causes vary, the outcome is still the same—diminished lives and communities.

Over the next decade, we are going to see more urbanized populations, a growing middle class, and increased diversification of diets. As leaders in agriculture, it is our role to make sure that the agricultural value chain adapts to meet the world’s evolving nutritional needs.

This year will be an important crossroad for hunger and agricultural development policy, including Congressional consideration of the Global Food Security Act and Child Nutrition Reauthorization. I am proud that Farm Journal Foundation will be bringing both farmers and future leaders to Washington, D.C. on Ag Day to share the impact of hunger and tell agriculture’s story.

Please take the opportunity that National Ag Day provides each of us to speak out about agriculture’s unique responsibility of nourishing our dynamic, growing world. We invite you to join us in sharing your personal experience using #HungerStory.