World Food Day

Next Monday, 16 October 2023

World Food Day is an annual holiday observed on October 16. It is a United Nations holiday that aims to raise awareness about food supply and distribution issues around the world. The United Nations recognizes access to food as a fundamental human right, and this day helps in the fight to end world hunger.

Across the world, the food supply chain is not well developed, and so people in first-world countries tend to overindulge in food rather than eating sustainably and mindfully. World Food Day teaches people how to eat better, which includes practices such as eating seasonal vegetables and keeping a varied diet. 

African woman in a market holding a plate of tomatoes


World Food Day was established in 1979 to commemorate the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945. The idea for a World Food Day to be celebrated internationally was put forward by the Hungarian Minister of Agriculture at the Food and Agriculture Organization's 20th General Conference, and all Member Countries were on board with it. 

The first World Food Day was observed on October 16, 1981, with over 150 countries participating in it, to fight food poverty and hunger. The day has been celebrated every year since. 

Annual Themes

Every year there is a different World Food Day Theme. The theme puts focus on the issue at hand in that specific year and helps highlight how people can take action and help. The focus tends to be on farming, agriculture, and supply, to raise awareness of the need for funding and policy change. The first theme was Food Comes First in 1981. Recent themes include:

  • 2018 - Our Actions Are Our Future, Ending World Hunger by 2030 is Possible - the campaign this year aimed to achieve zero hunger by 2030. Promoting political debate, policies, and conversations on how to succeed in achieving this. 
  • 2019 - Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A # ZeroHunger World - In response to an increase in the number of undernourished people in the world the theme challenged countries to think about better diets, better production, and food supply to combat food poverty. 
  • 2020 - Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together - partly in response to COVID-19, the theme this year looked at resilience in food production and supply so they can withstand volatile situations. 
  • 2021 - Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow - the theme was designed to raise awareness of foodborne illnesses such as salmonella and E-coli, and how they disproportionately affect those in poverty. 

This year the theme is Leave NO ONE behind. The theme is a response to some of the modern challenges we are facing, such as COVID-19, one of those challenges being to ensure those living in developing countries still have access to food and nutrition through the elimination of inequality.  

Niagara Falls

In support of the campaign in 2022 Niagara falls will be illuminated blue on World Food Day at 10 pm. 

Why it matters

The Food and Agriculture Organization aims to help the lives of people in third world countries and rural populations, aid countries in famines, and contribute to economic growth. They do this by:

  • highlighting the importance of agricultural productivity,
  • helping countries to change their agricultural policies and implement new technology.
  • providing a safe and neutral space for politicians to discuss agricultural issues. 

A girl in an Indian slum eats a small chocolate bar

The role of The FAO and the aim of World Food Day is very important due to the fact that an estimated 829 million people still go hungry every day, approximately 11% of the global population. There was a large increase in the number of people without food between 2019 and 2022 due to war, COVID-19, and related issues such as homelessness and poverty. 

How to celebrate World Food Day

On World Food Day there are many events organized around the globe. The main event happens in Rome, Italy, at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization, where several international organizations gather to discuss issues regarding food supplies. 

On a smaller scale, many organizations in different world cities put together talks, conferences, workshops, and exhibitions that focus on food supplies, distribution, and the issue of world hunger. There are also fundraisers in support of agriculture, and small farmers in local communities. 

This is also a day for reflecting on our own diets, and how the food we buy has a knock-on effect on the food that is available for others. So, it is also a day for researching ways in which we can change what we eat to help eliminate world hunger. This might mean eating a more varied diet, reducing how much we consume, and also being mindful of where our food comes from. We can also make this the day to donate to food banks and help the hungry in our communities. 

World Food Day