Food security, as defined by the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. 1 Individuals who are food secure do not live in hunger or fear of being hungry at all times. They have access to food for a healthy life.
Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a situation of "limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods or limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways".2 Food insecurity contributes to risk of malnutrition, improper and imbalanced diet and affects the quality of diet.
It was five years ago the world committed to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition. Where are we in 2020? As per the report “The state of food security and nutrition in the world” from FAO in 2020, it is still a very long way to achieve the goal.
“There are many threats to progress. The 2017 and 2018 editions of this report showed that conflict and climate variability and extremes undermine efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. In 2019, the report showed that economic slowdowns and downturns also undercut these efforts. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as unprecedented Desert Locust outbreaks in Eastern Africa, are obscuring economic prospects in ways no one could have anticipated, and the situation may only get worse if we do not act urgently and take unprecedented action.”3
What are the risks to food security? One of the key reasons being fluctuating prices, better yet rising prices to healthy diets. “Healthy diets are estimated to be, on average, five times more expensive than diets that meet only dietary energy needs through a starchy staple”. Millions of people are not able to afford nutritious and balanced diet hence increasing issues of overweight, obesity, and undernourishment. Due to COVID-19 with loss of jobs, disruptions in food supply chain system, the severity has increased even higher making it even less accessible. COVID-19 is also expected to disturb food security in the population groups and countries that once were considered secured.
The other contributing factors are population growth, availability of cultivable land, natural disasters and economic slowdowns.