July 13, 2020

COVID-19 Causing Global Hunger and Malnutrition to Surge

SOFI 2020

Washington, D.C. – A new report released today by the United Nations says that global hunger and malnutrition have risen for the fifth year in a row, and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is making the situation worse. According to the State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World 2020 (SOFI), by the end of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic could tip 132 million more people into hunger. Bread for the World is urging Congress to including at least $12 billion in the next COVID-19 supplemental legislation to help countries address the COVID-19 pandemic and fund global food security and nutrition programs.

“This report confirms what Bread and others have been warning – the COVID-19 pandemic has become a hunger crisis,” said Rev. Eugene Cho, president of Bread for the World. “Global hunger and malnutrition were already on the rise and now the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a catastrophic surge. It is critical that Congress include funding for global food and nutrition programs in the next COVID-19 supplemental package.”

The report shows that global hunger has been on the rise since 2014. Tragically, the world is also not on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030. It is estimated that 690 million people were hungry or malnourished in 2019 – or 8.9% of the world’s population. This figure reflects the revised data from 13 countries and does not include the impact of COVID-19. The findings also show that 2 billion people in the world did not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food, 21.3 percent (144 million) of children under 5 years of age were stunted, and 6.9 percent (47 million) children wasted. Even short bouts of hunger as a result of COVID can lead to an increase in wasting and stunting.

Bread and other anti-hunger organizations are asking Congress for no less than $12 billion in international aid to help countries address the COVID-19 pandemic, including at least $2 billion to fund global food and nutrition programs. A bipartisan group of 32 senators have also written a letter to Senate leaders asking that funding for the international response be included the next COVID-19 supplemental package. Last month, the U.N. World Food Program warned that by the end of 2020 the number of people experiencing extreme hunger could nearly double to 270 million as a result of COVID-19. A new report from Oxfam estimates that more people will die of hunger caused by COVID-19 this year than from the virus itself.

“Bold U.S. leadership is needed to stop this global humanitarian catastrophe. God calls on us to help those in need, and the need now is far greater than anything we’ve seen in decades,” said Cho. “We urge lawmakers to include at least $12 billion for global humanitarian and nutrition assistance in the next COVID-19 relief package to help address this crisis. The United States cannot stand by and let millions of people around the world go hungry.” 

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • Election Resources

    One of the best times to raise the issues of hunger and poverty is during election campaigns. Engage candidates in your state/district on hunger and poverty using our elections resources.
  • Racially Equitable Responses to Hunger During COVID-19 and Beyond

    By Marlysa D. Gamblin and Kathleen King

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as when a person or household does not have regular, reliable access to the foods needed for good health. Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC) have historically had higher...

  • Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Global Pandemic, Better Nutrition Protects Lives

    With the coronavirus now spreading in low-resource contexts and new waves of infection expected in the coming year, better nutrition for vulnerable people is more important than ever.

For Faith

  • Finding Hope, Ending Hunger on Both Sides of the Border: A Bilingual Latino Devotional

    Devotional writers challenge us to feel the Spirit of God within us and to hear God’s urgent call to demand justice so all can put food on the table.
  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in faith.” These words from Colossians 2:6 remind us of the faith that is active in love for our neighbors.

    The Bible on...

  • Unity Declaration on Racism and Poverty

    A diverse body of Christian leaders calls on the churches and Congress to focus on the integral connection.

    Dear Members of Congress,

    As the president and Congress are preparing their plans for this year, almost 100 church leaders—from all the families of U.S. Christianity—are...

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