World Food Day - 16 October 2021

Posted on October 16, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on people all across the world. Many lives have been lost, and many more people have suffered, losing incomes and livelihoods. Economies in many countries have struggled to recover, and the safety nets that were meant to help reduce the impact of shocks such as a pandemic fell short. This is evident when we look at the impact the pandemic has had on food security. It is estimated that 118 million more people faced hunger in 2020 compared to 2019 with the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionally impacting food insecure and poor populations. There is a desperate need for comprehensive policy responses from all stakeholders in society, and the focus needs to be on transforming food systems for the better. Fortunately, the United Nations Food Systems Summit that took place in September 2021 has shown us that there is hope, providing us with a reason to celebrate World Food Day this year.

World Food Day is celebrated on the 16th Of October, marking the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation in 1945. Better known as the FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organisation was established to deal with the high levels of food insecurity that resulted from World War II. Now, the FAO works in over 130 countries where they lead the international efforts to end hunger. The theme for this year's World Food Day is “Our Actions are our future. Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and better life.” There are various activities taking place in countries around the world in celebration of World Food Day, and what food means to all of us.

According to Dr Gretaw Tadesse, “Food means power, health, beauty, and tradition. Food provides energy, ensures health, contributing to our physical beauty. As fuel helps to rotate a machine, food helps us to work, exercise, move and act. It also serves as a weapon against disease and malfunctions. However, it should be nutritious and safe from contamination of biotic and abiotic substances. Food also means tradition. The way I select, prepare, and eat foods defines my values, cultures, and socializations. Thus, it explains my identity and humanity and differentiates me from other social groups. This comes from my specific taste for food. Therefore, besides nutrition and safety, the taste is an important attribute for good food” For Dr Katrin Glatzel “Above all, food to me means energy and health. The right to food – access to sustainable, diverse, and healthy diets needs to be guaranteed to all and everywhere. It is a matter of social equity and humanity. Food is equally a catalyst for connection, with family and friends, and to experience various cultures through cooking together or sharing a meal.” For myself, food is joy. I invest time and energy into preparing meals for my family, and in return, we get to sit together at the table to enjoy it. more than this, food is also sustenance. It provides structure to my day, nourishes me and keeps me going.

Food can bring people together, nourish them and feed them. Food is a necessity and a right, but millions of people still don’t have access to it. Millions of people aren’t sure of where their next meal is going to come from. Part of celebrating World Food Day is also raising awareness of the high levels of food insecurity and malnourishment. There are a number of activities taking place this weekend that aim to help address food insecurity by providing meals to the hungry and educating people about the importance of healthy diets. There are various opportunities for you to help make a difference, or you can learn more about the importance of food here.

- Author Andrea du Toit
Published by Andrea du Toit

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