At Easter in 1915, Americans were determined to save Belgium from starvation. Belgium had been invaded by Germany in World War I and this led to food shortages. Belgian children were suffering severe malnutrition.
Americans packed food on to the Easter Argosy Ship and other vessels bound for Europe. Food aid from the United States saved many lives in Belgium that Easter and the remainder of the war.
This Easter we also need to take action to feed the world’s hungry. Conflict, climate change and the pandemic have placed millions on the brink of famine.
The war in Ukraine has suddenly led to millions of hungry refugees in just a matter of weeks. The supply of wheat in Ukraine, which Yemen and another nations depend on to eat, has been disrupted by the fighting. This is catastrophic. Global food prices are skyrocketing.
In war-torn Yemen the UN World Food Program (WFP) is struggling to find donations to feed 13 million people left hungry and displaced by a civil war. A lack of donations had forced WFP to reduce rations for 8 million Yemenis. Now even more cuts loom because of the increase in needs caused by the Ukraine war.
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“Unless we receive immediate funds, hungry people will lose assistance right at the time they need it most,” warns WFP Director David Beasley.
At the same time there is escalating hunger in Afghanistan, where 23 million people are in need of food.
At Easter in 1946 President Harry Truman scaled back festivities in order to save food for the starving people of the world. Truman reduced his Easter dinner to promote food conservation and he canceled the White House Easter egg roll.
Just one year after World War II there was the biggest threat of famine the globe had ever seen.
Truman organized a Famine Emergency Committee and pressed former president Herbert Hoover into action as a food ambassador to rally world supplies.
People donated to overseas relief. Catholic Relief Services held a food drive at thousands of parishes collecting donations for war-torn countries. Right after Easter a new charity sprang into action called CARE, which sent food packages to the hungry in Europe. CARE is also in action today worldwide, including feeding refugees from Ukraine.
This Easter, as part of festivities, you could donate to charities like WFP, CARE, CRS, Mercy Corps, Action Against Hunger, Save the Children, Edesia and others fighting global hunger. We can rise to the challenge and stop famine again today.
William Lambers partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book “Ending World Hunger.”