Seven principles for ending hunger:

Food for the undernourished


Second principle: Food for the undernourished

Food for the undernourished to make them able to seize opportunities to graduate out of hunger

  1. Chronic hunger weakens the people concerned. This implies a reduction in their physical capacity to work and a greater vulnerability to disease. It also hampers the physical and intellectual development of children, thus limiting their possibility of escaping from the poverty and hunger trap.

  2. To break the vicious circle of hunger and poverty, action is needed to ensure that an the people who are in a situation of chronic hunger can enjoy an adequate diet. It is possible: the food is available locally or globally, the issue is to give access to it for those who are in need.

  3. About 2% of the world food production (around 30 million tons of cereal every year) would be enough to feed all the people who do not eat enough in the world. The costs of such an operation can be estimated at a maximum of USD 15 to 25 billion (cost of the food and its distribution) per year. That is less than 0.2% of the world GDP, less than 2% of world military expenditure and about half of the estimated income of the tax on financial transactions implemented in the European Union countries.

  4. As food is available and funding possible, the issue remaining is that of the best mechanism to use. For this too, there are some basic principles that should guide implementation:

  5. To the extent possible, give priority to the purchase of locally available food (it is less costly and logistically simple than supplying food elsewhere, generates demand for local products and the money spent is ploughed back in the local economy); only import food from outside (with priority given to purchases coming from neighbouring countries) if there is high food price inflation and/or in case of national food shortage

  6. Depending on conditions, several options are available to give poor families access to adequate food, including through:

        1. The payment of an allowance to the beneficiaries so that they can buy food on the local market

        2. The distribution of food vouchers that can be used on the local market or in approved and specialised shops

        3. The sale of food at subsidised prices in approved and specialised shops

        4. The distribution of food whether conditional or not (e.g. food for work programmes, food distribution in health centres, in schools, etc.)

      1. In cases in which schools, health centres, specialised or approved shops make local purchases, they should preferably buy from small farmer groups

      2. In rural areas, school feeding of children should be supported by school garden and nutrition education programmes where the children learn how to cultivate what they eat and to eat healthily.  

Materne Maetz

(October 2013)

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  2. For more information:

  1. Mander, H., State food provisioning as social protection - Debating India’s national food security law, Right to Food Study, FAO  2015

  2. MacMillan, A., Cash transfers to eradicate hunger,, 2015

  3. FAO, Guide for Policy and Programmatic Actions at Country Level
    to Address High Food Prices
    , 2011

  4. WFP, Vouchers and Cash Transfers as Food Assistance Instruments: Opportunities and Challenges, 2008

  5. FAO, School Gardens Concept Note, 2004

  6. FAO, School feeding sourced to small farmers breaks new ground in Africa, 2013

  7. Trueba and MacMillan, How to End Hunger in Times of Crises, 2013

  8. Graziano da Silva,  Del Grossi,  De França, The Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) Program - The Brazilian Experience, 2011


Last update:    September 2015

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