World Food Day: You Too Walk On, Because ZERO is the Hero

Maurice Bloem | October 16, 2014

CWS Executive Vice President Maurice A. Bloem's third year in a row of walking 100 miles to raise awareness about hunger. Photo: CWS

CWS Executive Vice President Maurice A. Bloem’s third year in a row of walking 100 miles to raise awareness about hunger. Photo: CWS

“Home… hard to know what it is if you’ve never had one
Home… I can’t say where it is but I know I’m going home
That’s where the heart is.”

Lisa Rothenberger, a former CWS board member, sent me U2’s “Walk On” to listen to during my first 100 Mile Hunger Walk three years ago. She said, “if you feel tired and need a push, just listen to that song and you will be fine.”

She was right.

When I wake up and read the news about the situation in the Middle East, Ukraine or West Africa, I find it sometimes hard to cope with all those challenges, but then I just need to turn on “Walk On” to give me energy again and to continue doing the things that need to be done.

I gained a similar charge a few weeks ago, at an event during the UN General Assembly. It gave me such a boost, realizing that we are on the right track and can make this world better.

“Delivering Zero Hunger: Demonstrating Impact” was an event co-sponsored by World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Ireland, the Netherlands and Mexico.  It was one of the few side event sessions where all panelists, including the head of state from the Netherlands, stayed from the beginning until the end. Brilliant moderation by internationally acclaimed Al Jazeera journalist Femi Oke, contributed to the event’s success. Watch it here. There is momentum for change and actual results.

The event reiterated the call to join the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge. CWS was one of the first organizations to sign up for the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge, as it calls for a future where every individual has access to the nutrition they need to lead healthy, productive lives.  This requires comprehensive efforts; women are empowered; priority is given to family farming; and food systems everywhere are sustainable and resilient.

Today’s World Food Day is a day of action against hunger. Ending hunger and extreme poverty in our lifetime, requires attacking it from many angles. World Food Day this year focuses on supporting smallholder family farms. That’s definitely an important element.

It’s also important we reform food assistance to be sensitive to local markets. And we need to make sure any hunger solution includes proper nutrition. I’ve been impressed with the recent bipartisan support for a comprehensive anti-hunger legislation in the U.S. Congress, including a nutrition strategy (endorsed by Representatives like Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla.; Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.; Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn.;  and Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash.).  They clearly understand the importance of adequate food and nutrition.

Global consensus is that we can end hunger in our lifetime. Legislation supporting changes will have incredible impact. And the UN continues to hammer out its successor to the MIllennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, with inputs from civil society are all positive steps forward. Our role as CWS is to keep connected to the forces of change, matching pace and helping to shape the future. The job of  eradicating hunger and poverty while at the same time promoting peace and justice deserves nothing less.

What you could do in the meantime? Go to the World Food Day website and see how you can be engaged in a number of activities  — if you are in the U.S. you will realize that this is the perfect time to join one of the CROP Hunger walks taking place.

If you are in the neighborhood on October 19, please join me in the San Francisco Peninsula CROP Hunger Walk. And there will be music as well. They might even play “Walk On!”

“You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom.”

Maurice Bloem is CWS’s Executive Vice President.