When discussing the current state of our global society, poverty and hunger are two of the most pressing issues in almost every region of the world.
They are afflictions that affect the vast majority of the human population and are factors that contribute greatly to premature death and inhumane desperate levels in terms of quality of life. Hunger and poverty are also concepts that are deeply interconnected, each affecting the other in surprising and often devastating ways. In the grand scheme of things, looking at the overview of human society, here are some of the most salient relationships and interconnections between global poverty and worldwide hunger.
1. Malnutrition Delays Development
One of the characterizing traits of the world’s poorest families is that they will often go through periods of food instability. This means that even if there is enough to eat during some times of the year, families will often not have sufficient access to food for extended periods of time.
While physically, adults are more resilient and can go through leaner times, babies and young children can experience long term health problems when periodically deprived of adequate nutrition. The most common symptom of chronic food instability is delayed development, which can negatively affect a child’s ability to perform well in school. This consequently lessens their chance of finding a good occupation in life, starting a vicious circle that can keep many families locked into poverty for generations at a time.
2. Poor Areas are Often Food Deserts
Having sufficient access to food means more than just being able to consume enough calories every day. It also demands that families are able to buy food that is nutritious and good for the body, which allows for the preparation of meals that are conducive for long and short term good health.
Just finding nutritious food can be a challenge for those living in poverty stricken areas. These regions are often called “food deserts”, as they will often have few places to purchase fresh foods like fruit and produce. This means that economically disadvantaged families will often have to invest a great deal of time to travel to wealthier areas to buy healthy groceries. This saps free time, takes children away from their schooling and can lead to prohibitive additional costs such as travel.
3. Nutritious Food is an Economic Privilege
While many western countries offer some sort of food based welfare, these systems are often incredibly meager and not conducive to healthy eating. Many welfare systems are characterized by an elaborate set of rules which dictate what may and may not be bought. Lists of items that are restricted can include groceries that are vital for good nutrition, like fish, legumes, and more exotic fruits. This means that foods that doctors recommend for the maintenance of proper body function can be entirely out of reach for poor people, which can lead to health problems.
In the end, it is a widely understood fact that it is not possible to eliminate poverty or hunger without addressing both factors. In order to reduce the devastating effects of widespread destitution, it is necessary to look not only at money but also at food.