Posted on Dec 04, 2020


Here’s a little #FoodForThought...

Millions more could miss meals due to COVID-19 pandemic in Latin America and Caribbean
In May 2020, the World Food Programme projected that some 14 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean could experience severe food insecurity in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, where an estimated 10 million additional people could join the 3.4 million across the region who were already unable to meet their basic food needs.
These WFP projections cover Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and several small island developing states in the Caribbean, including many in District 7020 and District 7030.
Back then, Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, stated:
“It is vital and urgent that we provide food assistance to the growing number of vulnerable people in the region, as well as those who depend on informal work...We still have time to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic from becoming a hunger pandemic.”
According to the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), s major effect of COVID-19 was clear economic contraction in the region since March/April 2020, which was among several factors that risk aggravating the already precarious situation of vulnerable people, along with the inability to work due to movement restrictions, job losses, and falling income from remittances – cash sent home by workers abroad.
Concurrently, it was estimated that the pandemic could also push many more children into household poverty, where  Latin America and the Caribbean could see numbers rise by 22 per cent according to data revealed by the Save the Children NGO, and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF.
UN agencies warn against rising hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean
In June 2020, an ECLAC report cautioned that the number of people in Latin America and the Caribbean living in extreme poverty could increase to surpass 83 million this year due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a significant rise in hunger.
COVID-19 is also affecting food systems, with domestic food prices rising higher than other basic items. Increased unemployment means millions are unable to buy enough to eat, while many others are forced to find cheaper food that is less nutritious.
According to Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary:
"Agriculture itself will not be so affected by the pandemic. What is more affected is the household income. That's why we're concerned about the increase in extreme poverty in the region. The major task we have ahead of us is to keep the health crisis from turning into a food crisis."
Both ECLAC and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) proposed a variety of measures to ward against increased hunger and aimed at ensuring all households have access to the nutritious food they need, food companies can continue to carry out their work, and countries have enough food to guarantee supply at reasonable prices.
One such measure included an “Anti-Hunger Grant” to support vulnerable people as well as food producers which could be given for six months to people living in extreme poverty. The grant would be in the form of cash transfers, food baskets or vouchers, equivalent to 70 per cent of the regional extreme poverty line, or just under US $50 dollars per month, with an estimated overall cost of $23.5 billion.
The two UN agencies further proposed that food producers should receive an increase of at least 20 per cent in the average credit portfolio from the last three years, for loans that would be financed by a special credit line from multilateral and development banks. Family farms should also receive a basic investment kit of $250, at a regional cost of roughly $1.7 billion.
Other measures proposed included reinforcing school-based food programmes, supporting food assistance initiatives by civil society and humanitarian organizations, and maintaining policies that have kept global food trade afloat.
Meanwhile, the WFP also called for greater international solidarity to defeat COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean and to protect the most vulnerable countries and communities, with a warning against a “hunger pandemic” in a region where COVID-19 cases continued to rise. According to WFP Regional Director, Miguel Barreto, this included openly recommending that governments expand their programs to include more vulnerable people and groups, like informal workers and migrants.
At that time, which was a little over three months into the pandemic, Mr. Barreto reported that several Latin American and Caribbean countries had already increased social assistance to millions living in poverty.
However, since June, even with many of these measures in place, the duration over which they were to apply and the full extent to which they were needed by so many was unforeseen. Thus, their intended effect to mitigate could not be fully realized due to the growing and significant need by vulnerable persons, much of which has been seen and born in several countries and territories, including those in District 7030.
World’s poorest being pushed ‘closer to the abyss’ of famine
In July 2020, the WFP and FAO warned that hunger threatens to quickly soar to devastating levels in 25 countries  due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. While the greatest concentration of need was in Africa, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Asia – including middle-income nations – are also being ravaged by crippling levels of food insecurity.
The two UN agencies sounded the alarm in a joint report as the WFP announced that it is scaling up food assistance to an unprecedented 138 million people who face desperate levels of hunger as COVID-19 tightens its grip on some the world’s most fragile countries. With livelihoods evaporating, WFP Executive Director David Beasley stated:
“Three months ago at the UN Security Council, I told world leaders that we ran the risk of a famine of biblical proportions. Today, our latest data tell us that, since then, millions of the world’s very poorest families have been forced even closer to the abyss. Livelihoods are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate and now their lives are in imminent danger from starvation. Make no mistake – if we do not act now to end this pandemic of human suffering, many people will die!”
According to WFP estimates, the number of people living in acute food insecurity in countries affected by conflict, disasters or economic crises could jump from 149 million before the pandemic took hold to 270 million by year’s end if assistance is not provided urgently. Hardest hit in Latin America are more than five million Venezuelan migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in neighboring countries, such as those in District 7030, adding that faltering economic conditions in host countries could well make matters worse.


So, what can Rotary, Rotaract and Interact clubs in District do to mitigate the incidence of hunger in our communities?


#Feed10Million – An Initiative of Rotary Zones 33-34

Now in its second year, the Feed 10Million Initiative is part of Rotary Zones 33-34’s simple and straightforward mission to feed 10 million people during the 2020-2021 Rotary year.
With over 1740 clubs, Zones 33-34 have the capability to help significantly curb hunger in our respective communities at both local and regional levels. With a firm commitment to the initiative and resolve to help get it done, Zones 33-34 RI Directors Stephanie Urchick and Peter Kyle encourage all clubs to participate in the initiative, leading with their affirmation to all members that:
Our talent is SERVICE, our passion is DOING GOOD, our power is in our ability to combine our energy to attain a COMMON GOAL
How does the Feed 10Million Initiative work?
Zone 33 and 34 Public Image Teams will manage the overall campaign of the initiative, while also working with District Feed 10Million Champions appointed by respective District Governors. Additionally, last year’s Zone Champions PDG Johnny Robertson in Zone 33 and PDG Bobbi Bird in Zone 34 will join the PI Teams in this effort, bringing continuity and their personal expertise to this year’s effort.
The focus of the initiative will be on service to our communities, and to focus on that, a streamlined reporting process has been developed. Service hours spent on successful initiatives, along with financial contributions, and the number of meals provided, will be tracked Rotary Club Central (RCC) and through each District Feed10Million Champion, where the 4-Way Test will act as a guide upon which reporting is based.
With the assistance of the Zone PI Team, each District Feed10Million Champion will be responsible for all aspects of the Feed10Million Initiative within a particular District. This includes promoting the initiative, measuring District-wide results and training Club Feed 10Million Champions on reporting their efforts. 
For the 2020-2021 Rotary year, the District Feed 10Million Champion is PDG Roger Bose.
It is important to note that this initiative is by no means limited to large scale meal packing events such as those organized by groups like Rise Against Hunger or Meals of Hope (though these are viable options if deemed feasible by a club of group of clubs); but, moreover, the initiative is meant to be scaled by clubs and clusters of clubs to accommodate what is feasible and realistic based on available resources, including manpower, finances, time and partnerships. Additionally, a club or group of clubs do not have to implement a single large-scale event, but instead can opt for multiple smaller activities over time.
Some suggestions for Feed 10Million service projects include, but are not limited to:
 ActivityPossible Minimum CostsFrequency
 ⇒ Serve meals at a food kitchen
 - Volunteer Hours As often as possible
 ⇒ Serve meals at a Club/Area/District event
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Ingredients (if needed)
 - Preparation (if needed)
 - Packaging (if needed)
 ≥ 1
 ⇒ Pack or deliver food at/from an existing
     food bank or a distribution center
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Food Donations (if needed)
 - Packaging (if needed)
 As often as possible
 ⇒ Pack or deliver food for a backpack program
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Food Donations (if needed)
 - Packaging (if needed)
 As often as possible
 ⇒ Pack or deliver food together with
     another organization
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Food Donations (if needed)
 - Preparation (if needed)
 - Packaging (if needed)
 As often as possible
 ⇒ Participate in a Rise Against Hunger,
     Meals of Hope, or other similar packing event
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Food Donations (if needed)
 - Preparation (if needed)
 - Packaging (if needed)
 ≥ 1
 ⇒ Provide funds, where appropriate, to collaborate
     with another organization
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Member/Partner Contributions (if needed)
 - Food Donations (if needed)
 - Fundraisers (if needed)
 ≥ 1
 ⇒ Collaborate with local or regional food banks
 - Volunteer Hours
 - Food Donations (if needed)
 - Member/Partner Contributions (if needed)
 - Packaging (if needed)
 ≥ 1
For any and all activities under the initiative, along with tracking progress by service hours and financial contributions, each club or group of clubs is asked to also consider that the weight of a meal, the cost of a meal, and the value of a meal will be different in each community and across the Zones. Thus, when each club or group of clubs is tracking its progress measured in number of meals and reporting such, a club’s local community standards and the 4-Way Test should be applied to best convert variable factors and overall service into an appropriate number of meals. The District Feed 10Million Champion can provide clubs with more information on this and other aspect of standardized reporting.
Responsibilities and ways to report progress:
  • Zone 33 and 34 Public Image Coordinator Teams will manage this campaign in the respective Zones.
  • Each District will appoint a Feed10Million Champion who will:
    • Promote the Feed10Million Initiative through all available means and in all training events.
    • Understand and use the Zone33-34 reporting system to record monthly progress for number of meals packed. Data for this monthly progress report may be entered any time during the month and as often as is convenient/necessary. (Click HERE for a link to the input form for this data.)
    • Provide a system for clubs to report the number of meals served on a monthly basis directly to the Feed10Million Champion.
    • Understand and teach clubs how to use Rotary Club Central to report volunteer hours and contributions in a manner that will measure program progress. (Click HERE for the “How To” video and/or PDF for instruction on RCC data entry.)
      Encourage clubs to appoint a Club Feed10Million Champion that will work with you to promote the initiative in the club and to measure progress.
    • Train, support and help clubs with accurate reporting of progress, service hours and financial contributions in RCC.
    • Help Club Feed10Million Champions understand how to collaborate, where appropriate, with other organizations including local food banks and meal packing partners.
    • Work with the District Public Image Chair to provide support for club’s Public Image announcements, Community Service efforts, and identifying other local opportunities.
    • Provide a monthly report to the Zone Public Image Team.
    • Work with the Zone Public Image Team to publicize success, manage and track clubs' RCC input, and maintain accurate accounting of each club’s meal progress through the year.
    • Provide leadership and additional support as needed.
  • Each Club will:
    • Do what clubs do best - provide Service Above Self to our neighbors and the world.
    • Provide a monthly report of number of meals served to the District Feed10Million Champion.
    • Report service hours and financial progress through Rotary Club Central per the teaching video provided by clicking HERE
    • Motivate and Engage club members and other community members and organizations to join in this initiative.
    • Share your Feed10Million photos and videos on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets using the hashtag #Feed10Million.
    • Share your success on Rotary Showcase.
    • Use our Feed10Million Campaign to Open Opportunities and bring attention to Rotary
Although the end of the first half of the 2020-2021 Rotary year is around the corner, clubs in District 7030 are encouraged to meet the challenge set out by Zones 33-34 to help those in our communities and ensure that they do not go hungry if only for one day. While the risk of a hunger and malnutrition among both adults and children in our respective communities, countries and territories increases the longer the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on economies lasts, let us not forget that even before 2020, there have always been vulnerable persons, families and communities which experience food insecurity and required assistance in one form or another. As this issue will unfortunately not be eradicated in one Rotary year, clubs and groups of clubs should therefore look to make a sustainable commitment annually to contribute time and resources towards a vigilant effort in our region to reduce the number of hungry and  malnourished persons.
As civil society and service-based organizations, along with governments and local administrations, as well as, regional groups, clubs in District 7030 should do their part to lead the way in the fight against hunger.