Celebrating World Food Day

By Kathleen Merrigan

Photo copyright: The Good of the Hive 2018

Today is World Food Day, recognized by more than 150 countries. Its celebration is a way to raise awareness of issues of poverty and hunger and the date was selected because back on October 16, 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was established. Every year World Food Day has a different theme; in 2018 it is “Our actions are our future.” The FAO website urges us to undertake four actions.

  • Don’t waste food
  • Produce more, with less
  • Adopt a more healthy and sustainable diet
  • Advocate for #ZeroHunger (SDG 2)

Suzanne Palmieri and I went to the FAO North American headquarters in Washington DC last night for an event in recognition of World Food Day. FAO had hosted a poetry contest in anticipation of World Food Day, in collaboration with Poetry X Hunger, a Washington group that uses poetry to raise hunger awareness.

Poet Hiram Larew, now retired but someone with whom I had worked on the USDA Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, led the poetry contest. The winner was Aaron Whitehead and he recited his poem, “Hunger Pains” at the event, bringing many of us to tears. FAO sent out a press release with the winning poem and runners up for all to read.

At the event, I also had the opportunity to meet Matthew Willey, the artist/founder of The Good of the Hive. He’s doing really cool stuff, painting bees on buildings around the world. He has committed to painting 50,000 honeybees in murals around the world to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators. Wouldn’t be fun to get him to ASU at some point?

All together, the FAO event was a good reminder of the power of art in communicating important food and agriculture issues, help us reach broader audiences, and engage more people in the work necessary to achieve sustainable food systems.

Follow us on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter to stay in the know as we tackle these questions and more at the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems.