What is World Food Day?

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger.

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on October 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people.

In North America, grassroots events and public awareness campaigns engage diverse audiences in action against hunger.  From hunger walks and World Food Day dinners to meal packaging events and food drives, there are many ways for people to be a part of solutions to hunger. 

Each year, advocates come together to raise awareness and engage Americans and Canadians in the movement to end hunger. Led by the FAO Liaison Office for North America, the World Food Day USA & Canada Network  includes over 60 organizations, universities and companies that are working to achieve a zero hunger world.

Why care about hunger?

Because the right to food is a basic human right.   In a world of plenty, 805 million people, one in nine worldwide, live with chronic hunger.1 The costs of hunger and malnutrition fall heavily on the most vulnerable.

  • 60% of the hungry in the world are women.2
  • Almost 5 million children under the age of 5 die of malnutrition-related causes every year.3 
  • 4 in 10 children in poor countries are malnourished damaging their bodies and brains4

Every human being has a fundamental right to be free from hunger and the right to adequate food. The right to adequate food is realized when every man, woman and child has the physical and economic access at all times to adequate food or means for its procurement.5

Because we can end hunger in our lifetime. It’s possible. The world produces enough food to feed every person on the planet. In September 2000, world leaders signed a commitment to achieve eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. MDG #1 is eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and includes three targets.  Since then:

  • Forty countries have already achieved the first target, to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 2015. 6
  • In addition, over the past 20 years, the likelihood of a child dying before age five has been nearly cut in half, which means about 17,000 children are saved every day.7  
  • Extreme poverty rates have also been cut in half since 1990.8 

The challenge is significant, but these results show us that when we focus our attention, we can make big strides. 

Because the cost of neglect is too high. No one in the world should have to experience hunger. In addition to the cost of human suffering, the world as a whole loses when people do not have enough to eat. Hungry people have learning difficulties, are less productive at work, are sick more often and live shorter lives. The cost to the global economy because of malnutrition is the equivalent of US$3.5 trillion a year.9  Hunger leads to increased levels of global insecurity and environmental degradation. Ending hunger is not just a moral imperative, but also a good investment for society.

Because it can happen to anyone. Even in the U.S., one of the richest countries in the world, one in seven Americans - 14.3 percent - does not have enough to eat.10 Nutritious food can be expensive, making a balanced diet a luxury for many. Loss of a job, a family tragedy, poor health, or an accident can make anyone, anywhere, go hungry in a moment. Globally, extreme climate events, war, or even financial crisis can dramatically affect a person’s ability to feed themselves and their families. Without social safety nets, resiliency measures and good policy in place, these small and large events can set off a cycle of hunger and poverty.       


[1] FAO. (2014) The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 2014. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

[2] UN ECOSOC. (2007) Strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development. Geneva: United Nations Economic and Social Council.

[3] FAO. (2012) 100 days to Rio +20, 100 facts: Making the link between people, food and the environment. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

[4] 1,000 Days. (Accessed July 2014) The Issue: Malnutrition.

[5] FAO. (Accessed July 2014) Right to Food: About Right to Food. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 

[6] FAO. (Accessed July 2014) The Post-2015 Development Agenda and the Millennium Development Goals. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

[7] United Nations. (2014) The Millennium Development Goals Report. New York, NY: United Nations. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/post-2015-mdg/news/detail-news/en/c/238394/

[8] United Nations. (Accessed July 2014) We can end poverty. New York, NY: United Nations

[9] FAO. (2013) The State of Food and Agriculture, 2013: Food Systems for Better Nutrition. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

[10] USDA. (2014) Household Food Security in the United States in 2013. Washington, DC: Economic Research Service / United States Department of Agriculture.



Do you like this page?

Showing 2 reactions

commented 2016-09-18 12:37:25 -0400 · Flag
World food day with music conzat @ university of ibadan. DMA entertainment present world food day to the people of ibadan metropolis. One for all and all for one. Contact us 07062331673
commented 2016-09-18 12:32:17 -0400 · Flag
Yes world food day is a great day. Every human being should have a right to a good food in there society. We students of University of ibadan are organizing a world food day in our community this October 16th