The numbers behind hunger

We’ve all heard the demands to end world hunger. But what about the price tag? Surprisingly, it would take $30 billion U.S. to put in place the agricultural programs needed to completely solve the global food crisis, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. Although $30 billion dollars seems like quite a lot of money, let’s put it into perspective. The U.S. Wall Street bailout plan just announced amounts to almost $1 trillion U.S. If that much funding is available for emergency use, then a mere $30 billion sounds like pocket change.

Not only should $30 billion not be that hard to raise with the aid of all the first world nations, but it should have been done when the FAO announced the price tag in June. It’s understood that the U.S. economy needed to be bailed out, but the money wasted every year on less important things is staggering. According to, global military expenditure and the arms trade account for the most spending in the world, amounting to over $1 trillion in annual expenses and rising. Instead of ending the hunger of an estimated 862 million people (, spending goes to fuel never ending power struggles and war.

Of the $700 billion bailout plan, about four per cent of it would end world hunger. Of the more than $1 trillion of taxpayer’s money that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the war in Iraq could cost, three per cent would end world hunger. With the money it cost the U.S. to stay in Iraq for five years, world hunger could have solved twice, with $740 billion left over for the bailout plan. Unfortunately, world hunger still affects over 850 million people.

Wasteful spending isn’t just evident in military endeavours. Stated in the 2009 budget plans for the U.S., Homeland Security used $30 billion last year and is asking for $35 billion this year. The need for Homeland Security is understood, but an expenditure of $35 billion is an increase of almost 17 per cent. That $5 billion could instead go to aiding in the relief of world hunger.

Focusing on the U.S. is an easy thing to do, but world hunger is every nation’s problem. In the U.K., food waste ridiculously amounts to roughly £10 billion according to the Guardian, which converts to about $14.9 billion U.S. About one third of U.K. groceries end up in the trash, which means billions of dollars are being dumped into landfills.

Considering the facts, beauty pageant girls could actually follow through with their wishes to end world hunger and a seemingly unattainable goal could be reached. All it would take is a mere $30 billion, a lot to the average citizen, but pocket change to national budgets. Instead of staying in Iraq for another five years, the U.S. could solve the problem of hunger. With an actual price tag being put on the end of world hunger, the only thing left to do is challenge someone to pick up the tab.

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