As I write this article, I am just finishing my first year as executive director of Canadian Foodgrains Bank. I think I speak for all of us when I say it’s not been the year I was expecting. Yet at the same time it has been a pivotal year for us as a network.
In the midst of our own struggles, we know that things have been far worse for those we serve around the world. As a result, we have increased our support to nearly a million people in both humanitarian and longer-term development work.
We did this together. I have stood in fields alongside farmers as they joyfully harvested crops on our growing projects and attended auctions with supporters determined to help end hunger. I have watched our team, our members and our partners move mountains in their quest to get support to where it is most needed. And I have heard inspiring stories of hope and thankfulness from the beautiful human beings we serve, people who deserve to be treated with the same dignity and justice that Jesus treats us all with.
And yet, the world is currently enduring a cascading set of crises that are having a major impact on the number of people going hungry. Across the globe, the growth of conflict, the increasing impacts of climate change and over this last 18 months, the economic consequences of the pandemic, have led to a reversal in the progress towards ending hunger that has been made over decades.
The annual United Nations State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report showed a big jump in the number of people facing hunger in 2020. The report gives a range instead of an absolute number because of the challenges in collecting data during the pandemic. A mid-range estimate is 768 million, an increase of 118 million over last year, but this number could be as high as 811 million and there are 41 million people at risk of falling into famine.
We could get lost in these figures and feel that we are falling behind, that we are on the losing side of the fight to end hunger. But that’s not the case.
Despite the challenges, we have hope, a hope rooted in our faith and in our experience of God’s provision. In this season, I’m reminded of what Paul writes in his second letter to the Corinthians. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. For instead of being overwhelmed by that enormous total of 768 million hungry people, I picture the faces of those I have met. And I believe we have it within us to see each one of those priceless and unique individuals thrive and flourish in a world without hunger.
Let’s hope together.
Andy Harrington, Executive Director
This story was featured in the Fall 2021 Breaking Bread. Download or order your copy here.