By Christopher Burgess
Virtual Food Drive 2010 #VFD2010  Hunger.  We have all uttered the words, “I’m hungry,” for some that simply means that its been more than 15 minutes since their last snack, for others it means they have no idea when or how their next meal will arrive.  I’m amongst the most fortunate of this world, since age 19 when I entered the workforce full-time, I have not had a single day of unemployment, which means I’ve never experienced the angst of not knowing from where my next meal was going to arrive. I grew it or bought it – whether I was in the United States, South Asia, Central Europe, or Central America.  And in each location, the presence of hunger turned my stomach. 

Hunger is so wrong.  There has never been such an abundance of edible food in this world, in recorded history – there is no reason, whatsoever, that one need go hungry.  But we continue to see hunger everywhere we turn – during times of strife and conflict the innocents are displaced and their infrastructure collapses and starvation sets in; in the less devolped countries of the world we see inmature infrastructure unable to store and distribute food supplies, and in the “modern’ countries, including the United States, we have 1 in 6 of our population falling into the category of “food insecure” – they struggle, daily,  to feed themselves and their families ( Hunger: Food Insecurity in 2010, What’s Up With That?).

So what’s right?  Allow me to give you two separate examples of how some are doing the right thing to address this phenomena.  One is right here in the United States and the other is in Brazil.

Western Washington, United States:
A group which I personally support with my time, food, and dollars is Northwest Harvest.  They have teamed up with the Emergency Food Network of Pierce County, Washington to collect over a period of two days (Friday, September 17 at 4:00 pm through Saturday, September 18 at 4:00 pm) 1,000,000 pounds of food.  You read this right, one million pounds of food for the Puget Sound region.  This one million pounds, help them with your donation, and make their “Fill the Bowl” effort be successful – so many need this assistance, too many.  See the link below for details.

Belo Horizonte, Brazil:
This morning I read an extraordinarily uplifting piece about the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil.   They have declared hunger to be illegal.  I shalln’t recap the entire article (see link below), but allow me to highlight some of details with hopes that those reading can take the data and emulate in their own villages, towns and cities.  In 1993, the city of 2.5 million had 275,000 in absolute poverty and 20% of the children suffering hunger.  Fast forward to 2010, hunger is virtually non-existent and only 2% (two percent) of the city’s budget was used to achieve this result – how much was two percent, 2 million dollars – less than a dollar per constituent. 

According to Frances Moore Lappe writing about Belo Horizonte in Yes! (see link below), “The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce—which often reached 100 percent—to consumers and the farmers. Farmers’ profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.”

The Belo Horizonte model needs to be emulated, replicated, and implemented across every nation, in every urban environment – there is no reason for hunger.  I agree with the city of Belo Horizonte, hunger should be illegal.

Thank you for your time.  Thank you for your actions to address hunger.  As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.

All the very best,


Northwest Harvest – Hunger Relief Organizations Aim to Break Guinness World Record
Pierce County, Washington:  Emergency Food Network
Guiness World Record Effort -> Fill the Bowl

Yes! Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions: The City that Ended Hunger – Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Treehugger:  Brazilian City Make Food a Basic Right and Ends Hunger