It was President John F. Kennedy who said "in the midst of our Thanksgiving, let us not be unmindful of the plight of those in many parts of the world to whom hunger is no stranger."
Kennedy, in his Thanksgiving proclamation of 1961, encouraged Americans "not only to preserve our blessings, but also to extend them to the four corners of the earth."
We should remember JFK’s words this Thanksgiving, as an unprecedented global hunger crisis continues. There are multiple nations in danger of famine. In Somalia, drought is so severe that families search for days looking for food and water. Infants are dying of malnutrition. Ethiopia and Kenya are also suffering from the Horn of Africa’s prolonged drought which has destroyed agriculture.
Famine is lurking in other nations, too. In civil-war-torn Yemen, there are 19 million people suffering in hunger and shocking rates of child malnutrition. South Sudan is another country in danger of famine because of conflict, but also climate change.
Makena Walker of the UN World Food Program says, "South Sudan is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and day in, day out families are losing their homes, cattle, fields and hope to extreme weather. Without humanitarian food assistance, millions more will find themselves in an increasingly dire situation and unable to provide even the most basic food for their families.
Even with donations from the U.S. and other countries, it is not enough to stop the escalating global hunger crisis. That is how big a crisis hunger is right now.
The World Food Program (WFP) and other relief agencies do not have enough funding to cope with the many hunger emergencies. In Yemen, for example, the WFP has been forced to reduce rations for war victims. School feeding and malnutrition prevention programs have also faced reductions because of lack of funding. In Mozambique, WFP is running out of funds and may need to shut down its relief programs there early next year.
The tragic reality is, on this Thanksgiving, some will feast, and others will starve to death. We cannot accept that. We must ensure that everyone has food, especially those in countries where conflict and climate change are increasing hunger.Everyone on Thanksgiving could donate and advocate for the world’s hungry. You could donate to charities fighting hunger like WFP, Catholic Relief Services, UNICEF, Mary's Meals, Save the Children and many others on the frontlines of fighting hunger.You could also write your representatives in Congress asking them to increase funding for the U.S. Food for Peace program, our main tool for fighting world hunger. In JFK's Thanksgiving proclamation, he touted Food for Peace, which was a big part of his presidency. Edesia, a nonprofit in Rhode Island that makes Plumpy’Nut to feed malnourished children, wants to see Food for Peace expanded during this crisis. More Food for Peace funding would allow for Edesia to produce more Plumpy’Nut to save malnourished children around the globe.The Thanksgiving holiday was founded by the persistence of a letter writer, Sarah Josepha Hale, who wrote to President Abraham Lincoln about creating the holiday. On Thanksgiving, you could also write letters to Congress about feeding the world’s hungry. If everyone does a little this Thanksgiving, we can share food and save lives from starvation in every corner of the globe.William Lambers of Delhi Township is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program on the book "Ending World Hunger." Lambers also volunteered to write the Hunger Heroes section of FreeRice, the WFP’s trivia game that raises donations to feed the hungry.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: This Thanksgiving, some will feast, others will starve to death