We Spend $22 Billion on Chocolate Every Year and 13 More Surprising Facts About Food and Hunger

World Food Program USA
June 11, 2021
Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

As lockdowns loosen and life picks up to its pre-pandemic pace in the United States, many of us are itching to get back in theaters, take a vacation and eat a meal at our favorite restaurant. At the same time, other parts of the world are still trapped in nightmarish realities because of the pandemic. These 14 surprising facts will definitely make you think about hunger differently when you’re buying a hotdog at the ballpark or booking a ticket to Disneyland.

Back in April of 2020, the United Nations World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley warned that the world could soon be facing multiple famines of “biblical proportions.” Today, Beasley’s cautionary message is coming to pass: the number of hungry people has doubled to 272 million and 34 million people now stand on the brink of famine.

Famine affects children in Nigeria
Photo: WFP

Here are 14 facts that put these figures in perspective.

THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY 

1) On average, Americans spend $11.4 billion on box office hits. That’s more than twice as much money as the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) needs to avert famine in 2021. Popcorn anyone?

2) In the first three months of 2021, Netflix had over 74 million American and Canadian subscribers. For every one of those Netflix subscribers, nine other people in the world are hungry.  

3) The price of a 2021 Coachella ticket is $449 for general admission. (Yes…you’re reading that right.) For $449, we could feed six families, each with five people, for a month.  

4) This year, the NBA averaged 1.34M viewers per game. That is almost the exact number of pregnant or breastfeeding women in Yemen (1.2M) who are severely malnourished this year. 

5) On average, a one-day ticket to Disneyland is $135. For $135, we could deliver 270 meals to desperately hungry people in the world’s worst crisis zones.

WFP Helicopter delivers food aid to Indonesia after tsunami
Photo: WFP/Rein Skullerud

WHO’S READY TO TRAVEL?

6) On any given day, we have more trucks on the ground than Chicago O’Hare has planes in the air. Our food assistance fleet includes 5,600 trucks, 100 aircraft and 30 ships.

7) In 2020, despite the pandemic, approximately 324 million travelers passed a TSA checkpoint in American airports. That means every time someone checked in at TSA, two people went to bed hungry that night.

8) A domestic plane ticket will set you back about $359. That would just about cover the cost of one plate of food in South Sudan ($329.82). Devastated by conflict, flooding and inflation, South Sudan has seen food prices skyrocket in the last year. Could you afford that?

9) The average amount of money spent in the United States on a single day in 2019 on food services, lodging, transportation, entertainment and retail shopping was $3.1 billion. That would more than cover the U.N. World Food Programme’s entire funding need to prevent famine in Yemen, which is $1.9 billion this year.

woman holding vegetables in garden

FOOD: CHECK PLEASE!

10) The average American spends $1,200 on fast food per year. For $1,200 we could deliver three nutritious, healthy meals to 800 new mothers. 

11) We all ordered a lot of takeout and delivery last year. So much in fact, that the money spent at restaurants in 2020 would cover our funding needs for this year nearly 45 times over. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) urgently needs $15 billion to pay for its work in 2021. American restaurant sales generated $659 billion in 2020, despite many restaurants closing in-person dining or lowering capacity levels to accommodate social distancing measures.

12) In the United States, the average price of a Starbucks drink is $2.75. For comparison, the price of one U.N. World Food Programme meal is only 50 cents. 

13) In California, people spend about $3,295 per year on dining out. If just one of those people donated that much money to us, we could deliver meals to 6,950 refugees in need.

14) Recently, Americans have spent roughly $22 billion dollars on chocolate every year. That would cover all of the U.N. World Food Programme’s funding needs through 2021 and there would still be $7 billion left over. Wouldn’t that be sweet?


This summer, we should certainly enjoy our freedoms after a year of lockdown. But WFP USA is also calling attention to the looming threat of famine and the urgent need to send lifesaving food to the world’s hungriest people. We hope you will too.

To learn more and see how you can help, visit our famine hub.