Photo: Hugh Rutherford

Read These 10 Quick Facts on Hunger and WFP’s Lifesaving Work

World Food Program USA
Published October 20, 2021
Last Updated May 16, 2022

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization and provider of school meals. We are the logistics backbone for the United Nations and work to save and change lives in over 120 countries and territories.

Here are 10 significant facts about hunger and our work:

1) The number of people facing severe hunger has more than doubled – from 135 million to 276 million – since 2019. That is equivalent to the population of the entire East Coast of the United States two times over.

2) At the peak of school closures in 2020, 370 million schoolchildren were missing out on school meals worldwide. Today, that number has shrunk to 204 million children in 50 countries.

child in mother's lap
Photo: WFP/Oluwaseun Oluwamuyiwa

811 million people go to bed hungry every night. This global hunger crisis has primarily been driven by conflict, climate shocks, the impacts of COVID-19 and rising costs.

3) Nearly 60% of the world’s hungriest people live in conflict zones and a record number of people – nearly 80 million – were forcibly displaced by war in 2020.

4) A historic number of people – 48.9 million – in 43 countries are one step away from facing starvation.

The U.N. World Food Programme is one of the world’s largest buyers of food and procures nearly $50 million dollars’ worth of food from local farmers.5) 45 million children under the age of 5 are severely hungry – meaning they’ve suffered from recent and life-threatening weight loss due to lack of nourishment.

6) In 2022, we are aiming to reach up to 147 million people, the highest number of people in our history. And because we know gender equality is key to reaching Zero Hunger, over half of the people we serve are women or girls.

man operating all-terrain vehicle
Photo: Hugh Rutherford

On any given day, the U.N. World Food Programme has up to 5,600 trucks, 30 ships and 100 planes on the move.

7) We deliver over 4 million metric tons of food (the equivalent weight of 840,000 Asian elephants) and distribute over $2 billion dollars in cash and food vouchers.

8) We provide 15 million children around the world with school meals, nutritious snacks and take-home rations.

9) We are supporting 11 million refugees at a time when nearly 50% of the world’s refugees are boys and girls under 18.

schoolboy in white uniform eating lunch
Photo: WFP/Ratanak Leng

The U.N. World Food Programme delivers over 165,000 metric tons of food and transfers nearly $50 million dollars to the families of vulnerable schoolchildren every year.

10) We are working with the people we serve to repair over 6,500 miles of roads and trails (half the length of the Great Wall of China) to keep communities connected to each other and to local markets.

As the number of hungry people continues to rise, the U.N. World Food Programme will continue to work doggedly to bring lifesaving food and aid to the world’s most vulnerable people.