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World Food Day is nearing - and with it comes a reminder of the need for global solidarity and action on improving food supply and safety for all.
An annual celebration to raise awareness of different aspects of food security and agriculture, World Food Day falls on October 16. The date was set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) in 1979 to commemorate the organisation's launch.
These days, the annual World Food Day is celebrated in more than 150 countries and regions around the world. Many organisations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, use it as a platform to encourage debate and focus on food issues.
Each year, World Food Day features a different theme, highlighting an issue that needs focusing. Most of the themes relate to agriculture, promoting worldwide awareness and action on hunger and healthy diets.
Marking the 75th anniversary of the FAO, this year’s World World Day takes place under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Its theme this time is “Grow, nourish, sustain. Together. Our actions are our future.” The FAO sees it as a call for global solidarity among governments, private businesses, NGOs, journalists, administrations and even individuals to fight hunger and ensure healthy diets for all. According to the FAO, nearly 690 million people are hungry, up 10 million since last year. FAO researchers fear the pandemic could add as many as 132 million people to that number, depending on how governments manage to preserve economic growth.
Every year, numerous events, ranging from marathons, hunger marches, exhibitions, cultural performances, contests to concerts, are held across the world to celebrate World Food Day. However, this year, due to COVID-19, many events are going digital, or will be held with due regard to physical distancing recommendations.
To help businesses and organisations promote the event, the FAO offers promotional materials in several languages, including posters, brochures, event banners, and web and social-media graphics.
The annual World Food Day ceremony hosted by the FAO will go digital this year. The online ceremony will feature messages and calls for actions from His Holiness Pope Francis, the President of the Republic of Italy, and the UN Secretary-General.
To mark the day this year, FAO video mapping will be projected onto the world-renowned Colosseum in Rome as well as on the facade of the organisation’s headquarters.
In Asia, World Food Day events are scheduled in many countries despite the COVID-19 situation, including Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and China.
In the Philippines, eight events take place this year, five of them in Manila. A social media campaign was launched last month with video messages of Department of Agriculture food security ambassadors' James Reid and renowned farming movement advocate and agripreneur Cherrie Atilano.
In Thailand, the event is muted this year, with the FAO Asia-Pacific regional Dialogue on Joint Action for COVID-19 Response and Recovery conference convening virtually on Zoom. Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the FAO Special Goodwill Ambassador for Zero Hunger in Asia and the Pacific, will speak.
In other parts of the world, a variety of activities are taking place. The US organisation Table For Two has launched a campaign called Onigiri Action, aiming to provide 1 million school meals to children around the world. During the campaign, every rice ball-related post on the campaign website or social media tagged #OnigiriAction will result in five school meals being provided to children in need.
Meanwhile, in the UK, the Israeli Embassy in London aims to provide 1000 meals to charities as part of World Food Day 2020. The embassy has called out volunteers to help cook food from recipes created by Israeli chef Eran Tibi on October 15. The meals will then be delivered to women’s shelters, children’s charities, community centres, the elderly, those facing food poverty and soup kitchens.
As an individual, there are myriad activities that people can join in to celebrate World Food Day. Besides joining local events, people can just simply give away food to those in need or donate to charities or their nearest food bank.