Boston -- Oxfam America is calling on US President George W. Bush to “skip a meal” on the Thursday before Thanksgiving in a symbolic demonstration to the world that America is a nation that cares deeply about all who suffer from chronic hunger and poverty.
This call to action is part of an annual Oxfam tradition dating back to 1974 when 250,000 people across the nation responded to the organization’s call to participate in the first Fast for a World Harvest activities by donating their food money to Oxfam’s hunger and poverty reduction programs.
“As Americans we share many traditions and among the most deeply rooted are our traditions of compassion and caring”, said Raymond C. Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, in announcing Oxfam’s petition to Mr. Bush. “When our President joins hundreds of thousands of other Americans in skipping a meal the Thursday before Thanksgiving, we are letting the world know that as a nation we are very concerned about the millions of our fellow human beings who go to bed hungry each night”.
At the World Food Summit a decade ago, the US and other governments signed on to a plan of action to halve global hunger by 2015. Since then the number of hungry people in the world has risen by 54 million and now stands at 854 million. The failure of the international community to tackle the global hunger crisis is evident in these grim statistics :
- One person in seven on the planet goes to bed hungry, half of them are children.
- In sub-Saharan Africa the number of hungry people has increased by some 20 per cent since 1996.
- Over 200 million people in sub-Saharan Africa – more than a third of the population – is hungry.
- In Ethiopia 11-12 million people face hunger. The 1984 Ethiopian food crisis struck 5-7 million people.
The solution to global hunger includes strong economic growth, fair trade and effective government, according to Oxfam. With three quarters of the world’s hungry living in rural areas, the agency believes that investment in agriculture, rural infrastructure and employment generation are key to addressing the global hunger crisis.
“Attention to the issue of world hunger is ever more important today and should be treated as a matter of dire urgency by President Bush and other world leaders. Oxfam is proud to continue engaging with the thousands who maintain the Fast tradition by giving up a meal or organizing special events to raise money for the agency,” said Nancy Delaney, Oxfam America’s Fast and Outreach Manager. “To date, Fast organizers have raised more than $10 million for our efforts to fight poverty and raise public awareness about world hunger”.
To find out what you can do and how you can participate in Fast activities visit us at actfast.oxfamamerica.org