Resolving the global crises of world hunger and malnutrition demands a shift away from a distorted approach to food and toward healthier lifestyles and just economic practices, Pope Francis said.
“We are, in fact, witnessing how food is ceasing to be a means of subsistence and turning into an avenue of personal destruction,” he said in his message to Qu Dongyu, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to mark World Food Day on Oct. 16. World Food Day marks the date the FAO was founded in 1945 to address the causes of world hunger.
Pope Francis said he hoped the world day theme of 2019 – “Our actions are our future: Healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger World” – will be a reminder of how many people continue to eat in an unhealthy way.
“It is a cruel, unjust and paradoxical reality that, today, there is food for everyone, and yet not everyone has access to it, and that in some areas of the world food is wasted, discarded and consumed in excess, or destined for other purposes than nutrition,” he said.
“To escape from this spiral, we need to promote ‘economic institutions and social initiatives which can give the poor regular access to basic resources,'” he said, citing his encyclical, “Laudato Si’.”
The theme also points to “the distorted relationship between food and nutrition,” he said. Some 820 million people in the world suffer from hunger, “while almost 700 million are overweight, victims of improper dietary habits,” said Pope Francis.
Being overweight is no longer a major health issue in developed countries, he said, but also in poorer areas where people may “eat little but increasingly poorly, since they imitate dietary models imported from developed areas.”