Working to stop hunger now

Published 8:12 pm Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ray Buchanan, an ordained United Methodist minister, founded Stop Hunger Now in 1998 after spending 18 years as the co-founder and co-director of the Society of St. Andrew, a Virginia-based domestic food relief organization. During his time with the Society, he had a vision of ending hunger in his lifetime, so he looked for a way to try to help those with the greatest need.

His new organization, Stop Hunger Now, has delivered food and disaster relief supplies to thousands of disaster victims and other hungry people in 79 different countries. In 2005, the organization began packaging nutritious dehydrated meals containing rice, soy, vegetable, flavoring and a seasoning that includes 21 vitamins and minerals, all for a cost of only 25 cents per meal. Since that time, nearly 38 million meals have been packaged. More than 40,000 of those meals were put together last weekend by volunteers from three local Rotary clubs and a Chuckatuck church.

Those meals could make the difference between life and death for children in Haiti, in Africa, in the Middle East, in South America and in places all over the world where people are suffering from malnutrition. The meals will be used in school feeding programs, which encourage poverty-stricken families to send all their children to school, thereby setting up a virtuous circle of nutrition and education and employment. School feeding programs alone could cut world hunger in half by 2015, according to the United Nations.

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Contrary to popular belief, hunger can be beaten, Buchanan believes. Scientists now understand malnutrition and the micronutrients that help fight it, farmers produce enough food to feed everyone more than four pounds of food a day and the infrastructure to process that food and distribute it now exists. What is lacking is a widespread commitment to ease this suffering.

But the reasons to eradicate hunger on a worldwide scale are strong. When hunger is solved, a people’s productivity rises, their health improves, their genders are treated more equally, they complete higher levels of education and they are able to address other humanitarian issues.

Stop Hunger Now is not the only organization working to eradicate hunger in the world. There are others you could support, and some of those likely earn Charity Navigator’s four-star ranking assessment, too. Support another if you wish. Or support the work of Stop Hunger Now by donating, by visiting to learn more about the effort or by volunteering to help out at a packaging event like the one held in Suffolk last weekend. It’s a great example of how, with just a little effort, each of us can help change the world.