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Today 1 in 8 will go to bed hungry. Here, in Texas, 1 in 4 households will suffer from food insecurity. Today is also World Food Day. World Food Day, observed every October 16, is an opportunity to promote and boost support against hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Since its establishment in 1979, organizations have assembled campaigns and events to highlight and end hunger. This year, the theme for World Food Day is, “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition”. This is especially significant to us at Fossil Rim because sustainable food systems help preserve the natural environment, its resources and, all the plant and animal species on Earth.
Consumers in industrialized countries waste as much food as the entire net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa (222 million tons vs. 230 million tons). In the United States that manifests into 30-40% of the food supply and more than 20 pounds of food per person a month. This means that 1 in every 4 calories produced never reaches a hungry belly and instead ends up in a landfill. Waste occurs in many levels of the food system; on the farm, during shipment, at the grocery store, at restaurants and at home in our pantries, refrigerators and plates.
Food isn’t the only thing lost when we throw away half a burger though.
70% of previously forested land in the Amazon is now occupied by pastures and feedcrops.  Not coincidentally, the IUCN lists habitat loss as a major contributor to the endangerment of roughly 50% of all threatened species. Nitrogen, necessary to all life on Earth, is overused by 30-60% in agriculture and nearly half washes off crops and into groundwater and waterways. The excess nitrogen alters the local biodiversity and leads to reduced ecosystem functions (ecosystem functions like water and air purification, pollination, erosion control and nutrient cycling) and marine dead zones. So, along with calories in the landfill, water, land, energy and invaluable ecosystem services are also lost or wasted.
There are ways to help though. Last year, The Global FoodBanking Network, along with other food banks, saved over 920 million pounds of edible food from being thrown into a landfill and used it to feed hungry people around the world.
This is just one of many ways everyone can help celebrate this year’s World Food Day. Others include volunteering your time to a local food bank or kitchen and donating to people suffering from disaster or conflict.
You can also organize a food packaging event, arrange a food drive, donate food, grow a garden, engage your local schools and faith communities, join the social media campaign or join a local hunger coalition. These are all simple and easy ways you can make a critical difference while supporting the global fight against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
By: Savanna H.