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World Hunger, At Various Ages

The fact of world hunger has always disturbed me. I find it appalling that even today, as agriculturally productive as we are as a global community, many in the world are still hungry. At the same time, I am deeply impressed with many organizations that exist today for the purpose of fighting global hunger. Several of these organizations have made me feel that it is possible for me to help reduce the problem of hunger without having to be a rich philanthropist or travel personally to the Third World. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work against hunger and hope that these opportunities will continue to expand as I get older and procure a higher level of education.

I was first introduced to ways I could help with the issue of hunger when I was perhaps nine years old. At an after school program I attended, we sometimes visited the computer lab, but we weren’t allowed to use the computers freely until we had earned a thousand grains of rice on freerice.com, a website established by the United Nations Food Programme that allows volunteers to “earn” grains of rice to donate to those in need. The volunteers must play vocabulary games in order to earn the rice; for every word matched with its correct definition, the United Nations Food Programme and its partners donate ten grains of rice to victims of hunger. I am deeply impressed by the premise of freerice.com, and having to use the site whenever I stayed after school made me develop a habit of using it. Years later, studying for the AP Spanish test, I spent hours on the Spanish section of freerice.com, trying to define every word the site threw at me. Often, when I log onto freerice.com, I wind up spending much longer on the site than I intended, because I always want to earn just one hundred more grains of rice. I wonder about who is receiving this rice and what it feels like to be in a situation to need nutritional assistance.

When I was twelve, I hosted my birthday party at Feed My Starving Children and asked for donations to the organization rather than birthday presents. This was my decision; it made much more sense to me to give to those in need than to have my friends attempt to come up with something to give to me, when I already had so much. Since this birthday party, I have been to Feed My Starving Children many more times with my family, church, and school. I greatly enjoy helping to pack food, and I think it’s great that the organization has made it so easy to help make a difference with such an important issue.

This past Christmas, instead of giving the adults in my family gifts that could be wrapped up in wrapping paper, I donated to World Vision in their honor. For my grandparents, I donated ducks, which are more flood-resistant than chickens and provide eggs and meat for poor families. In honor of my parents, meanwhile, I donated medications, including some that combat the problems that poor nutrition spawns, such as vitamin deficiencies. I truly believe that these gifts are going to better use than any material gifts I could have given, and I’m glad that my parents and grandparents feel the same way.

As I get older, I plan on continuing to use freerice.com, visit Feed My Starving Children warehouses, and donate to World Vision. However, as I continue to study economics, I hope I will learn more about what can be done from a policy standpoint to lessen hunger worldwide. With this knowledge, I hope that I will be able to influence matters not only by donating personally but also by impacting the way the global agricultural system works. I do not currently know where this will take me, but I wonder about working for a nonprofit or for the government. At the very least, I expect I will be an involved citizen and will advocate for legislation that I believe will lessen the problem of global hunger. No matter where I end up, I am convinced that I will still be doing something to combat hunger in some way for the rest of my life.




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