There is a big global social problem to do with hunger as indicated by the number of underfed people climbing in the past decade. According to reports, the number of people in the world living with hunger exceeds 1 billion. This problem is however not due to food shortages, since global supplies of food outweigh its demand.
A look at the major causes of hunger is thus in order, and should encompass the principal characteristics thereof and an action plan.
Macro analysis of hunger
This is the survey of hunger as the biological transmission of a social disease, which has historical roots. It also entails a look at the characteristics of the social and economic factors that lead to hunger and malnutrition. The macro analysis focuses on the overall policies that shape national economies; on a national level and the foreign policy component. The macro causes of hunger are the leading cause of hunger in capitalist and pro-capitalist economies.
The macro perspective analysis of hunger can depict it as stemming from institutionalization of micro causes to hunger. The exclusion of the hungry people from access to resources is the procedural effect of the power system in the society. This renders them powerless to engage in decision making in the determination of pertinent policy.
For instance a nation’s employment policy leads to a portion of the population being unemployed thus unable to acquire food. This exposes them to hunger despite availability of food, for instance in the U.S there are sectors of people who are as affected as people of the poor countries; since there is the ‘affluent pattern’ of consumption that makes the cost of food high, limiting choices available to the poor.
In another perspective, hunger amounts to the inability of a society to produce its livelihood sufficiently; since mostly these societies that experience hunger are encumbered with the responsibility of earning their livelihood through the production of another society’s livelihood. The fact that macro factors are policy issues on micro causes translates to the fact that intervention in hunger is more effective if macro issues are the first to be tackled.
Microanalysis of hunger
These are the immediate causes of hunger and malnutrition. They touch on the on the lives of the poor and powerless people at the local level. These causes stem from the social framework that builds up with time. One of these causes is the inability to produce due to the lack of enough resources or inputs for instance land.
The inability of this class of people to purchase is the second of the micro cause of hunger. This accrues to the monetization of social systems thereby tying food access to buying power, which is determined by the wealth of individuals, ownership of factors of production and access to employment.
A third possible cause of hunger at a micro level is the competition between food and cash crops. The production of crops for export on a large-scale takes the upper hand over the production of staple food crops. Also of great importance as a micro issue is the depletion of agricultural base whereby land is acquired by private entities and is thence consolidated for large-scale production. This depletion may also occur as a result of erosion, pollution or overgrazing.
Transformation of agrarian systems whereby the increased concentration of land holdings, advanced technology and production methods; leads to landless peasants who are unable to acquire food. There is also the widespread situation whereby developing countries experience inefficiency in management, rich farmer bias and poor infrastructure. This in turn leads to lack of inputs as well as market access.
Macro and micro aspects of hung are inter-related leading to the level of complexity of the global hunger problem. Though differing with the extent to which they are directly related to the hunger problem, the intervention action is preferably a top down affair, starting with macro issues. This should eventually trickle down to the micro issues.
Food pantry programs
Also known as food banks, these charitable organizations source donated food. They in turn distribute this food to agencies that reach and feed the hungry. They mostly source this food from growers, manufacturers and sellers of food who experience surpluses in the course do business operations (Schuffan, 5).
Effectiveness of food pantry programs
The effectiveness of food banks is dependent on beating the challenges that face them: The first of these is capacity whereby the food pantries are more often than not out of adequate storage. This hampers their ability to source and stock readily available food reserves.
The second challenge regards sustainability whereby there is a problem in obtaining a reliable and consistent source of funds. This interrupt’s the food pantries’ operations and ability to build capacity. Thirdly, these food banks experience accountability challenges whereby they are limited in inventory systems, client services and other management activities. Their ability to track and report on these functions is a serious administrative challenge, for instance duplication problems.
In addition, these food banks are facing declining resources despite growing demand. There is also lack of coordinated and integrated systems of service whereby agencies compete for resources while lacking a coordinated approach in distribution. It appears that despite adequate supply of food, it suffers from inconsistent quality due variances in the supply. Distribution sites thus rarely receive highly nutritional food.
The stratospheric cost of transportation -due to recent increases in the price of oil- is affecting the food pantries’ capacity to distribute food. Another challenge is the deficiency in fundraising skills and resources. Competition between the pantries and other social programs for limited and shrinking resources require limit each of the food banks’ ability to raise enough funds. They thus require professional fund development staff and grant writers, who they are unable to afford.
Hunger is a highly pervasive social problem in the globe. It is required that authorities all over design and implement policy that will solve the problem. This requires that the macro issues be offered priority for the desired results. Meanwhile as the problem continues to plague the world, the role of the food pantry programs cannot be appreciated enough. Whatever challenges these food banks face need to be addressed since their role in mitigating the circumstances are crucial. They therefore should employ better management skills in achieving relief effort efficiency. They should also adopt proper management tools while putting in place coordination mechanisms that enable them deal with competition for limited donations and funds.
Once the food pantry programs achieve optimum efficiency they will be able to play their role of ensuring less people continue to suffer from hunger while there is adequate distributable food. However these efforts and those of other not-for-profit programs are just a meanwhile solution. The real solution to hunger lies in the hands of international and national social-economic policy on poverty and hunger.
Schuftan, Claudio. The causes of Hunger and Malnutrition: Macro and Micro Determinants. Monrovia: Cornell Intl, 1988. Print.