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  • Writer's pictureYeji Seo

1 in 10 people don’t have enough food to eat worldwide – here's what you can do to help them out

Can you remember what you ate for dinner yesterday? If you are anything like me, you probably don’t. Although we struggle to remember what we ate for dinner the night before, we certainly know that we ate something before going to bed. However, more than half a billion people across the globe go to bed with an empty stomach every night not knowing when they will be able to eat again.

Food security is a major issue faced by many countries across the globe. Wars, natural disasters, and climate change are some factors that contribute to famine. To combat hunger and fight for food security, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization established ‘‘World Food Day’ in 1945. This day is celebrated worldwide through events including donations and fundraisers to save lives. This is a global step taken to eliminate hunger, poverty, and malnutrition. You may think this is an issue for underdeveloped countries, but even in Toronto, efforts are being made to manage and sustain our ecosystem which includes learning how to choose healthy foods while limiting waste production in households.

To fully understand the importance of food security, we must understand the impact that food has in our daily lives. Food is essential in helping our body to produce energy, protect against infections and viruses (like COVID-19), and develop, replace, and repair bodily cells. It basically helps us to maintain body function. Thus, depending on the type and amount of nutrients we consume, we may become overweight, malnourished, and/or at-risk for diseases and cancer.

The same goes for oral health – the nutrients you consume determine whether you will experience future oral health complications. Some nutrients essential to the health of our enamel are vitamins A and B. Deficiencies in vitamin A, found in beef liver, carrots, and cheese, are associated with several complications including impaired tooth formation during tooth development, while deficiencies in vitamin B, found in salmon, leafy greens, and eggs, have shown to result in gingivitis. Scurvy, as you all may have learned in history class, is another oral health issue associated with vitamin C deficiency. Of the 13 vitamins, only three have been mentioned here, and deficiencies in any one can lead to various issues. Keep in mind, we’ve only been speaking of vitamins and not the other essential nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

So, what foods should you place in donation boxes, you ask? Everything except homemade items, leftovers, foods that require refrigeration, and expired food. Considering the impact that each essential nutrient has on our overall health, it might also be important for us to be aware of the functions of the various types and kinds of nutrients contained in different foods. With greater interest and knowledge in sustainable food consumption, we can be mindful of donating foods with a variety of essential nutrients during World Food Day, coming up on Sunday, October 16th. We can all be food heroes and create a healthier world that is free of malnutrition and hunger.

With the many donation boxes you will see in your community, consider donating to TorontoTooth, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping low-income Torontonians receive the basic oral health care products, such as toothbrushes and toothpastes, that they need but do not have access to. No matter how small or big your donation, you will be helping a child, a youth, and an underprivileged woman reclaim their human right to health and basic hygiene necessities.

After all, when it comes to food insecurity, it really depends on your and my efforts to create a difference in the lives of the one in ten individuals who do not have enough food to eat. If you donate to organizations such as the ‘World Food Programme’ addressing world-hunger issues today, one person will be going to bed after a warm meal. And if you choose to donate to TorontoTooth, we will make sure that they also get the chance to brush their teeth after that warm meal. We can help rewrite the narrative of food and health inequality, but in order to do so, we need everyone’s help, including yours.

Don’t act tomorrow, act today.


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