Participants in the four-person discussion, entitled “The Ingredients of Food Security,” included Howard A. Zucker, the former assistant director-general of the World Health Organization, along with colleagues in economics, political science, and humanitarian outreach.
Zucker began the event by asking attendees to consider the amount of food that goes to waste during an average restaurant dinner.
“Now just imagine if one out of every six of us here in the room didn’t have enough to eat, but could not access any of that leftover food,” he said. “Well, that really is the world today.”
After citing several causes of worldwide hunger, including famine, poverty, and natural disaster, Zucker offered his thoughts on how to address the situation.
“Dream big, invest significantly, apply technological know-how and political will,” he said.
Anita McGahan, professor of management at the University of Toronto, presented the difficulties of achieving proper levels of sustenance worldwide to the half-filled Science Center auditorium.
Citing age distribution projections, McGahan said that the global hunger situation would likely be exacerbated in the future as resources are diverted towards growing masses of wealthy elderly and away from impoverished regions elsewhere.
Richard Leach, senior advisor for public policy at the Friends of the World Food Program, a United Nations humanitarian organization that combats hunger, praised the students in the audience for demonstrating their interest in global health.
Leach commended the strides the United States has made in assisting impoverished nations, but warned that “progress is being threatened” by a lack of communication in Congress.
Robert Paarlberg, a political science professor at Wellesley and an associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, drew a distinction between the emergency aid that the United States effectively distributes on a periodic basis versus the sustained assistance that Africa needs.
“Even when international food crises are low, we can’t lose sight of the underlying problem of persistent hunger,” he said.
When asked about ways to tackle the issue of global hunger on a local level, Zucker said, “Individuals need to be the voice. Speak loudly.”