A father and his son eat their meal in Burkina Faso, Africa. WFP
Cooking has become a hobby and major recreation for many people in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s almost impossible nowadays to check social media without at least two or three photos of delicious meals popping up on our screens. But behind the fancy recipes and boastful social media posts, many of us don’t realize how much we take food for granted.
“At the same time while dealing with a COVID-19 pandemic, we are also on the brink of a hunger pandemic,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program (WFP), a United Nations agency, warned on April 20.
Around 135 million people had been facing food shortages before the coronavirus outbreak, but now 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program. Altogether, 265 million people are being pushed to the brink of starvation by the COVID-19 crisis.
According to The New York Times, thousands of workers in India are lining up twice a day for bread and fried vegetables to fight against hunger. And across Colombia, poor families are hanging red clothing and flags from their windows to show that they are hungry.
“We don’t have any money, and now we need to survive,” said Pauline Karushi, who lost her job at a jewelry store in Nairobi. “That means not eating much.”
Lockdowns and social distancing measures contributed to loss of income for people worldwide and disrupted agricultural production and supply routes, leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat.
Money alone will not be enough, according to WFP. Also crucial is ensuring that transport and supply chains stay open in the face of lockdowns.
“There is no shortage of food globally – yet. But problems in planting, harvesting and transporting food will leave [less developed] countries [facing even more difficult times] in the coming months, especially those reliant on imports,” Johan Swinnen, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington told The New York Times.
However, for us, there’s no need for stockpiling food, said Wei Baigang, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. The reserves of rice and wheat in China are enough for the whole population for one year, according to Xinhua, and the prices remain stable.
“We have the confidence and determination to keep our rice bowls full,” said Pan Wenbo, another official from the ministry.