Rice is the main component of the nutritious meal packages dispensed worldwide by the group, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., and led by the Rev. Ray Buchanan, a United Methodist pastor. "It (the cost) is having an absolutely direct impact on what we're going to do," Buchanan said.
As a result, Stop Hunger Now may have to reduce its goal to package 5.5 million meals during 2008 or rely on more donations from volunteers who put together the meals, he added.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, the well-known economist and special adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, has described the worldwide food situation as "the worst crisis of its kind in more than 30 years," according to The New York Times.
And those affected most by the crisis are the poorest of the poor, according to June Kim, who monitors hunger-related projects for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. "A lot of people living on $2 a day are now having to pay more for food and getting less food," she said.
Trouble is everywhere, according to news reports:
- In the Horn of Africa, a lack of rain, poor harvests, soaring food prices and inflation, and violence have hampered food aid.
- In Haiti, where the cost of beans, corn and rice has skyrocketed, the very poor are literally eating mud patties made out of mud, oil and sugar.
- In Australia, a six-year drought has nearly destroyed the country's huge rice industry, reducing the rice crop by 98 percent.
- In the Philippines, the government has distributed monthly cash subsidies and "rice passes" in an effort to deal with food shortages.
In a world where one third of the population lives in what Americans would consider extreme poverty and two thirds live on less than $5 a day, the increase in price of rice will be the difference between life and death. More than a third of the world's population does not have:
- sufficient food
- clean water
- sufficient shelter
- access to an education
- any medical services
Here is a list of resources:
Stop Hunger Now
Church World Service
Bread For the World
UN News Service
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