For weeks now, my teenage daughter and her friends have been buzzing about the release of the new film The Hunger Games. I asked her recently about the trilogy -- she'd already read the books -- and I was struck by how much the premise relates to the very heart of what we are trying to address at USAID and through Feed the Future. Among other themes, the book touches on the fundamental right everyone should have: access to food.
As a father, nothing is more important to me than ensuring my daughter has a happy life. Sure, this includes her ability to hang out with friends at the movies (after her homework is done, of course). But more importantly, it means she's healthy enough to go to school and work toward opportunities for a bright future. Kids all over the world deserve the same, and it starts with access to healthy, nutritious food.
Through Feed the Future, we're addressing the root causes of hunger and undernutrition by working with countries to help them develop their own resilient agricultural sectors so they can feed themselves over the long-term. Our efforts recognize the importance of providing critical humanitarian assistance to save lives and protect livelihoods in times of need, but ultimately, our hope and goal is to create the conditions where our assistance is no longer necessary. Our efforts through the Feed the Future initiative aim to assist 18 million women, children and family members -- mostly smallholder farmers -- escape chronic hunger and poverty. We're making great progress, but there is still a long way to go.
Tonight, almost one billion people in the world will go to bed hungry. That keeps me up at night.
Global hunger seems like such an impossible challenge, but in fact we have the ability to beat it. Efforts USAID is supporting through the game-changing Feed the Future and Global Health Initiatives as well as through disaster assistance programs are critical to global progress and stability, but we as individuals can make a difference just by sharing information, raising awareness, and committing ourselves to staying engaged. While the challenges are real, we know we can use our collective voices to turn the page on hunger.
That's what intrigues me about The Hunger Games. It's an entry point for discussion and engagement on a very real issue based on an incredible pop culture success. If it gets people talking about hunger, the need for political will and access to resources, the consequences of inaction, and the transformative power of our collective commitment, that -- for me -- is a success beyond any box office record the film might set.
Our partners at the United Nations World Food Programme recently teamed up with the makers of The Hunger Games film and Feeding America to raise awareness about hunger. We're excited to be a part of the discussion.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the USAID Impact Blog.