Photo: Hugh Rutherford

10 Quick Facts on Global Hunger and the United Nations World Food Programme’s Life-Changing Work

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

The world is in the midst of a global food crisis – the largest in recent history. In this year of catastrophic hunger and unprecedented needs, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up to serve the greatest number of people in its 60+ year history.

We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, serving over 100 million people in 120 countries and territories. Here are the 10 facts you need to know about hunger and our work:

1) 828 million people worldwide are hungry. That means more than one in ten people goes to bed on an empty stomach every night.

2) Of those 811 million, 345 million are facing severe hunger.

3) 50 million people in 45 countries are on the brink of famine or worse, including 882,000 people already facing catastrophic levels of hunger.

4) In 2021, we reached 115 million people. This year, we’re working to serve up to 152 million people – the highest number of people in our history. We need $22.2 billion to reach this record number of people.

woman in green headscarf smiling
Photo: WFP/Shelley Thakral/2022

The U.N. World Food Programme works to support over 100 million people in 120 countries and territories.

5) In areas of extreme hardship around the world, where the U.N. World Food Programme works to serve the hungriest of the hungry, women have a 10% higher chance of being hungry than men. That means more than half of the world’s hungriest people (60%) are women.

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.

6) 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.

7) Conflict is the number one driver of hunger in the world. According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises, conflict pushed 139 million people into food crises in 2021.

man operating all-terrain vehicle
Photo: Hugh Rutherford

As head of the U.N. Logistics Cluster, the U.N. World Food Programme has 5600 trucks, 100 planes and 30 ships active on any given day.

8) 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 every year.

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

Woman holds handful of baobab tree leaves
Photo: WFP/Esther Ouoba/2022

More than half the people the U.N. World Food Programme serves are women and girls.

10) The average cost of a U.N. World Food Programme meal is $0.50 cents. For $75, we can feed a family of five for one month with an emergency box of food.

As the number of hungry people continues to rise, the U.N. World Food Programme will continue to work doggedly to bring food and aid to millions of people in need.


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