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1 big thing: Why the world is hungry — and how to help

Data: UN Food and Agriculture Organization; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

All of us can play a small part in a big — and shockingly, growing — problem: Every night 9% of the world, 700 million people, go to bed hungry.

Why it matters: Hunger is spreading in our modern world. It has been exacerbated by the pandemic, and experts say it's set to get even worse.

  • Hunger in America was at an all time low pre-pandemic, according to Feeding America. Then it came roaring back.
  • Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned today that rising food prices could push 10 million more people into poverty globally.

What's happening:

  • Food prices are surging, as you see in the chart above. Inflation and supply chain chaos have driven up the price of groceries, and they're not falling anytime soon, supermarket executives say.
  • Food waste is rising too. Every year we waste a third of produced food — about 1.6 billion tons. As the world keeps industrializing, we're projected to waste 2.1 billion tons by 2030, according to Yale research.
  • Food banks are understaffed. Need is increasing, while supply and staff is short.
  • Crises are starving humans. The war in Ukraine and the tight COVID lockdowns in China are starving entire cities of people.

Food is a powerful force for good, Chef José Andrés told us at Axios' What's Next Summit. (Watch the video.)

  • And providing hot meals with dignity is one of the most admirable humanitarian acts.

Here's how you can help fight hunger at home and in the world.

  1. Donate. Consider your local food bank, No Kid Hungry, Care International and World Central Kitchen — Andrés' organization, which is providing fresh, gourmet meals to Ukrainian refugees. Check out our tips on how to verify a charity's legitimacy.
  2. Volunteer. There are food banks, pantries and homeless shelters in your backyard that need support. Even a couple hours on a Sunday to help stock shelves or pass out meals helps.
  3. Be sustainable. Watch how much food you buy at the store or order at a restaurant. And freeze uneaten food for future meals.
  4. Pay attention to innovation. A slew of new companies are working to combat food waste and hunger:
  • Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market rescue misshapen and ugly produce that grocery stores throw.
  • Too Good To Go, a new app operating in the U.S. and Europe, connects users with extra food that eateries would typically dump at closing. You can get restaurant-quality food for super cheap prices.
  • Sanku is fighting malnutrition in Africa by providing local millers with cutting-edge tech that adds essential, missing nutrients to the flour they're producing.

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🗑️ Whopping waste

Illustration of a box that contains some food and dotted outlines of food that is missing.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Stunning stat: Our annual food waste could feed up to 2 billion people — nearly three times the number of hungry people on Earth.

Why it matters: Humans produce plenty of food. But we have to get it to the right places.

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