About News Fountain and Gelsdorf: COVID, hunger are intertwined Oct 26, 2020 Kirsten Gelsdorf and Galen Fountain Fountain and Gelsdorf: COVID, hunger are intertwined The U.N. World Food Program's logo at the agency's headquarters in New York. AP Photo/Robert BumsteadThis year, there has been a laser focus on COVID-19. So when earlier this month the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the United Nation’s World Food Programme, people asked (as our students have been doing): What is the connection between food security and a global pandemic? Throughout time, the availability and accessibility of food have played a central role in defining the human condition. Clearly, civilizations have prospered or fallen in direct correlation to how well those fundamental needs have been met. Globally, and just prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, 690 million people suffered from chronic hunger and approximately 135 million were in a state of crisis due to acute hunger that threatened their livelihoods and their very lives. What is critical to understand is that food insecurity is not just driven by a drought. We have long known that where there is conflict, there is likely to be hunger. By some estimates, more people died from hunger during World War II than by violence. But there is also an increasing realization that hunger itself drives instability. We see this in modern day crises like Syria and the Sahel, where environmental degradation produced human migration and conflict among groups. Food insecurity is therefore a multidimensional challenge linked to conflict, climate change, persistent poverty, and, yes, epidemics (not to mention pandemics). The WFP is forecasting that due to COVID-19, the number of hungry people in the countries where it operates could increase up to 270 million before the year’s end — an 82% increase from before the pandemic took hold. Up to 6,000 children now could die every day from preventable causes as a direct result of pandemic-related disruptions. READ FULL ARTICLE IN THE DAILY PROGRESS Kirsten Gelsdorf As Director of Global Humanitarian Policy, Kirsten brings 19 years of experience working in the humanitarian sector; most recently serving as the Chief of the Policy Analysis and Innovation section at the United Nations Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Read full bio Galen Fountain Galen Fountain has taught at the Batten School since fall of 2012. Previously, he served for nearly two decades as Clerk of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies and prior to that as Counsel to the Senate Committee on Small Business. Read full bio Related Content Kirsten Gelsdorf Opinion: Now is the time to prioritize mental health News It is estimated that only 2% of people around the world have access to mental health and psychosocial support, or MHPSS. The question is, will COVID-19 offer us a chance to change this? Batten’s Kirsten Gelsdorf and Lucy Bassett provide critical insights into the barriers to progress in MHPSS interventions, and identify opportunities to prioritize and invest in new programs going forward. You Can Be a Good Neighbor and a Global Citizen During the COVID-19 Crisis News Batten's Kirsten Glesdorf and David Leblang, along with Alison Criss from UVA’s School of Medicine and Rebecca Dillingham from the Center for Global Health at the University of Virginia, write about actions to take to develop a preparedness plan and be a good neighbor during the COVID-19 crisis. Galen Fountain Food Security in the Age of COVID-19 News Many Americans take the stability of their food supply for granted, but the pandemic has revealed domestic and global weaknesses in our food systems, one Batten professor argues.