According to the United Nations World Food Programme, there are approximately 870 million undernourished people in the world today and hunger is the world’s number one health risk — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The vast majority of hungry people (98 percent) live in developing countries and it is believed that under-nutrition contributes to the deaths of 2.6 million children under five every year. The statistics are heartbreaking and the reasons for hunger are many including natural disasters, conflict, poverty, poor agricultural infrastructure and over-exploitation of the environment. (Hunger Stats, WFP)
It is for these reasons and many others that the Luther Family of Dealerships is partnering with Stop Hunger Now to pack 1 million meals in its third annual Drive To Serve food packing event. To meet our goal, it will take more than 3000 volunteers staffing 10 two-hour shifts over three days. Luther employees have jumped at the opportunity to help in the past, as have their families and friends, customers, vendors, local schools and youth organizations, police departments, and other Twin Cities businesses – all in an effort to help meet the goal. It’s hard work, great fun and a truly spirit-lifting way to spend two hours giving of yourself to others. Anyone who wants to help can participate in a packing session – just go to www.drivetoserve.com to register.
Stop Hunger Now is a US-based international hunger relief agency headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina that has been working toward its commitment to end hunger for more than 14 years. Since 1998, the organization has coordinated the distribution of more than 74 million meals and other lifesaving aid to children and families in over 76 countries. The program uses volunteers in an assembly process to combine rice, soy, dehydrated vegetables and a flavoring mix including 21 essential vitamins and minerals into meal packets that are shipped all over the globe. Stop Hunger Now works with international partners that ship and distribute meals to organizations in developing countries that primarily support school lunch programs. This process for distribution, through school feeding programs in hunger-stricken regions is seen as a practical means to end hunger.
According to Stop Hunger Now and other key organizations involved with hunger issues, addressing hunger is a key strategy to increasing education rates and providing a way out of poverty in developing countries. Providing meals in schools increases enrollment and as education levels rise, birth rates and disease rates fall, and communities begin to sustain themselves. The food resources needed to eradicate life-threatening malnutrition are sustainable and hunger experts agree that school feeding programs are the most effective tool for increasing access to education and improving the nutritional status of children. Many developed nations, including Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy and France have long histories of supporting national school feeding programs, a testament to the vitality and effectiveness of these programs. School feeding programs promote education, attract children to school, improve health and nutrition, spur economic growth, combat child labor and create a platform for other interventions. Providing leverage in all of these issues allows the communities to grow and become self-sufficient.