At the 2000 United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders from 189 nations signed the Millennium Declaration, a visionary document containing eight specific goals designed to end extreme poverty throughout the world by the year 2015. Sharing the commitment of these nations to the Millennium Development Goals, Food for Life and its affiliate programs are working hard to “free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty…” (Millennium Declaration)
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Every day, 800 million people go to bed hungry and 28,000 children die from poverty-related causes. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 per day.
Food for Life has served more than 900 million hot, nutritious meals in more than 60 countries since its inception. Every day, Food for Life distributes more than 1,000,000 free meals to needy people in over 100 cities worldwide.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
Around the world, 115 million school-aged children—56% of them girls and 94% of them in developing countries—do not attend school.
Education provides the key to solving the root causes of hunger by empowering individuals to participate in a society’s economy, but learning is virtually impossible when the pain of hunger is demanding attention. Food for Life and its affiliate programs support education by providing not only schools and teachers, but also nutritious meals to give the body and the mind the fuel to learn. Food for Life’s (Midday Meal Program) in India, for example, feeds hundreds of thousands of children daily.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Two-thirds of illiterate people are women. Half of the 40 million HIV-positive people in the world are women, and that proportion is growing. Women held only 15% of legislative seats national assemblies in 2003.
Food for Life recognizes the devastating effects of poverty on women. While women in developing countries are traditionally responsible for food production, nutrition, family planning, health, and education, resources are allocated primarily to men. Food for Life programs seek to lead women out of poverty and into self-sufficiency by providing training and skills, as well as small business loans and cooperative savings programs.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Over 11 million children under the age of five die each year, mostly from preventable diseases.
Food for Life cares for children not only by offering hot, nutritious meals through its direct food relief programs, but also through projects such as Gokulam-Bhaktivadenta Children’s Home. This refuge provides food, shelter, medical care, and a full education for 75 orphaned and destitute children in a family atmosphere. Gokulam has begun an expansion campaign to increase its capacity to accommodate 250 children.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
Each year, over 500,000 women die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and over 50 million suffer from serious pregnancy-related illness and disability.
Food for Life’s distribution of balanced, nutritious vegetarian meals to needy women in developing countries helps to improve maternal health by combating common nutritional deficiencies, such as anemia and Vitamin A deficiency.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Worldwide, 3.1 million people (including 510,000 children) died of AIDS in 2004, as well as 2 million from tuberculosis and 1 million from malaria.
Nutritional support, health education, and medical services are all part of Food for Life’s efforts to fight disease and promote health around the world through programs such as the Bhaktivadenta Hospital in India, and Project Future Hope that is saving the lives of orphans in Kenya.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Over 2.4 billion people lack access to proper sanitation facilities and one billion lack access to drinkable water. Some two million children—6,000 a day—die every year from preventable infections spread by dirty water or improper sanitation facilities.
Food for Life promotes environmental stewardship through education and action programs such as Trees for Life, planting tree saplings in school playgrounds and teaching the school children the importance of protecting and maintaining the environment. Furthermore, all of Food for Life’s food programs are completely vegetarian, providing a sustainable alternative to the environmental devastation caused by the meat industry.
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Many developing countries spend more on debt service than on social services. Monumental debt compounded by high interest rates creates burdens from which these countries will never be free without aid and debt relief from wealthy nations.
In addition to food distribution, Food for Life and its affiliate programs ease the burden by providing services such as education, vocational training, and health care, building the skills and resources necessary to allow people to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty. Contributions from generous donors allow Food for Life to provide services at low cost or no cost to people in need.