Photo: WFP/Andy Higgins

On the Frontlines: How the World’s Youth Are Innovating, Adapting and Surviving in Their Fights Against Hunger

World Food Program USA
Published August 12, 2021
Last Updated September 20, 2021

“Young people are on the front lines of the struggle to build a better future for all.” – United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres

Children are a beacon of hope for a brighter, more sustainable and peaceful future. From school meals to agricultural equipment, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) provides the resources children need to not only survive, but to become the leaders of tomorrow. 

In honor of International Youth Day, here are five stories of young people around the world who are part of and participating in the solutions to childhood hunger.

Daniel in Zambia

At just 16, Daniel is paving the way for sustainable, innovative solutions to food insecurity in Zambia.

“I was amazed when the U.N. World Food Programme came to set up the greenhouse at my school. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques,” says Daniel. “I said ‘I have to try to do this.’…finally I made it and built my own greenhouse.’’

After receiving training from the U.N. World Food Programme in hydroponics technology, Daniel took the initiative to fashion his own greenhouse using recycled tires, wood, plastic and an old mosquito net. Now, Daniel finds the hydroponic vegetables tastier and more nutritious than traditionally grown veggies.

We provide communities with agricultural training, equipment and resources to improve their crop quality and ensure they have access to nutritious diets.  

Yonchi in Bangladesh

When we first met Yonchi in 2019, she was 10 years old and known as the brightest student in her fourth grade class. She was one of 90,000 children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region to receive school meals from the Government of Bangladesh, supported by the U.N. World Food Programme.

“Growing up, I did not have enough food to take to school” said Yonchi. “But now we get warm food in school and I am no longer hungry all the time.”

While her particular school meals program is still suspended due to COVID-19 school closures, the U.N. World Food Programme ensures children still receive nutritious snacks and meals by providing take-home rations. These take-home meals give students like Yonchi the energy to concentrate on their studies and an incentive to return to the classroom once school doors reopen.

We are the largest provider of school meals in the world, delivering food to 15 million schoolchildren through both onsite meals and take-home rations.

Students in Niger

Every day, in the Zinder region of landlocked Niger, young students gather in their school’s garden to learn how to grow, harvest, preserve and prepare food in an environmentally friendly way. These gardens not only support school meals programs but also provide young people the opportunity to develop farming and business skills in a country where 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Our air-tight storage containers help farmers preserve their dried crops and cut their food loss from 40 to under 2 percent.  

Huda in Yemen

Huda is 11 years old and dreams of becoming a doctor when she grows up. Her family lives in the Hareeb district in Marib, one of the most dangerous front lines of Yemen’s war. Huda’s family receives a monthly food basket from the U.N. World Food Programme full of staples like beans, vegetable oil and wheat flour. Thanks to this food assistance, Huda reads and plays with dolls without worrying about empty dinner plates.

In 2020, we provided food and cash assistance to 115 million people and distributed 4.2 million metric tons of food.  

Kadi’s Twin Boys in Burkina Faso

Kadi’s twin boys are two of the 45 million children under 5 that suffer from severe hunger worldwide.

The U.N. World Food Programme supplies Kadi’s local health center with nutritious supplements like fortified porridge to feed her boys with. She also attends the center’s cooking demonstrations that teach pregnant and breastfeeding women how to prepare infant formula using local, nutritious products. These demonstrations equip mothers with knowledge and resources about nutrition to care for their young children.

Through our first 1,000 Days program, we provide fortified nutrition treatments and supplements to mothers and infants until their 2nd birthday. 

We work every day to feed children’s dreams so young boys and girls like Daniel, Yonchi and Huda can lead lives safe from the effects of hunger.

Help us provide the food, nutrition support and resources children need to survive. Visit our Childhood Hunger hub to learn more and donate today.