Peace Corps Observes World Food Day, October 16; Volunteers are Working to Eradicate Hunger World-Wide
October 14, 1999Washington, D.C., October 14, 1999—In honor of World Food Day on October 16, the Peace Corps is sponsoring a speech Friday on hunger by senior members of the Worldwatch Institute, a non-profit organization that analyzes global environmental and resource issues.
Gary Gardner and Brian Halweil will speak at Peace Corps headquarters at 12:30 p.m. Friday, October 15.
Peace Corps Acting Director Charles Baquet III praised the efforts of more than 4,000 Peace Corps volunteers working to eradicate hunger around the world.
"Peace Corps volunteers have a long history of helping people in developing countries gain access to secure supplies of food," Baquet said. "The special role that our volunteers play is at the micro-economic or Ôhousehold' level, where we believe a big part of the solution lies. Volunteers work directly with families to bring food to their table. No other agency has the people power to develop direct relationships with families in so many countries." Peace Corps volunteers play a variety of roles in food security, especially working to educate youth on agricultural development and nutrition.
In Africa, volunteers in Senegal are working to educate villagers about youth malnutrition by preparing workshops and educating residents about appropriate foods. Through their efforts, a system to train local villagers to care for and monitor malnourished youth has been implemented. Peace Corps volunteers in Belize established the Youth Enhancement Service as a non-governmental organization to provide an alternative for young women aged 13 to 18. The Service provides teenage mothers with programs that emphasize pre- and post-natal care as well as health and nutrition training for mother and child. In Eastern Europe, Peace Corps volunteers in Armenia set up a school lunch program through a grant from the United Nations World Food Program. The lunch program provides substantive meals for children as well as education about the importance of proper eating. This program is spreading rapidly to other schools as well. The Peace Corps is also sponsoring a food drive at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. The food collected will go to the Capital Area Food Bank, which provides millions of pounds of food each year to nearly 600 hunger relief organizations in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia. About 1,000 Peace Corps volunteers work directly in "food production," while another 3,000 work indirectly on household food security. Overall, 7,000 Peace Corps volunteers serve in 78 countries, bringing clean water to communities, teaching children, helping start new small businesses, and preventing the spread of AIDS. Since 1961, more than 155,000 Americans have joined the Peace Corps.