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Food & Hunger

Pope Francis renews goal of ending senseless hunger

WFP/Giulio dAdamo

Pope Francis visited the United Nations World Food Programme today, lending his voice and support by urging greater commitments to achieve zero hunger for all people.

Pope Francis has been behind quite a few papal firsts, and this visit is another. This is the first time a Pope has visited the World Food Programme headquarters in Rome.

The Pope called attention to some of the many causes of global hunger: conflict, food waste, inequality. 

“In some cases, hunger itself is used as a weapon of war,” Pope Francis said.

In Syria this year, dozens starved to death as food supplies were cut off in the town of Madaya. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has spoken out about the atrocities of deliberate starvation in conflict, calling it a “war crime.”

Today, the Pope joins many other world leaders in the fight to end world hunger. He also visited a memorial site for WFP workers who have lost their lives in service to the world’s hungry.

WFP-Hq_Pope_WFP-Giulio_dAdamo_D3S4950.jpgImage: WFP/Giulio dAdamo

Pope Francis rejected the complacency that hunger, conflict and suffering to persist -- calling out images in the media for normalizing the pain of hunger and other issues.

“Little by little growing immune to other people’s tragedies, we perceive them as something ‘natural.’ We are bombarded by so many images that we see the pain, but we don’t touch it; we hear the weeping, but we don’t comfort it; we see the thirst but we do not quench it. And in this way, many human lives turn into yet one more news story. One that will soon be replaced by another. While the headlines may change pain, hunger and thirst do not change. They remain.”

Pope Francis gets it. It took thousands of images of starving, suffering Syrian refugees before one now-iconic, heartbreaking image – of drowned 3-year-old Alan Kurdi – caught the attention of the world.

He not only called for the world to look beyond the stats and figure, but to look at the faces of hunger, especially when it comes to wasting food.

“We need to be reminded that food that is discarded is, in a certain sense, food that is stolen from the tables of poor and the starving,” Pope Francis said in an address to the Executive Board of the WFP.

His Holiness was also addressing you, global citizens, humans of the world and member states of the UN. He shared his full support for the work WFP is doing and called for others to help create a hunger free world.

“WFP is an excellent example of how one can work throughout the world to eradicate hunger through a better allotment of human and material resources by strengthening the local community,” the Pope said.

The Pope met with several WFP staff, including Jok Kuol from South Sudan who grew up receiving food support in the form of school meals and then later meals while living in a refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing civil war in South Sudan. Now, Jok helps support families similar to his own, in South Sudan. He works to feed some of the most vulnerable people facing hunger.

While conflict and food waste complicate food distribution challenges around the world, both the Pope and WFP’s Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, touched on the fact that the world has the tools, knowledge and capacity to end hunger. Bureaucratic obstacles remain a major roadblock – one which the international community and global citizens have the opportunity to correct.

Thanks to Pope Francis’ call and attention to bring humanity back to Global Goal 2: Zero Hunger, the world is one step closer to eradicating a major global challenge.