The United States has fallen from its top spot in a global ranking of how well countries are able to feed their people. The number one position now belongs to Ireland, the world’s most “food-secure” nation in terms of food affordability, availability, quality, and safety, according to a copy of the sixth annual Global Food Security Index obtained by Bloomberg. Concerns over agricultural research spending and government policy trends in America ultimately cost the country its prestigious ranking.
Worldwide, food security fell for the first time in five years, mostly because of an increase in the number of refugees, natural disasters, and a decline in global political stability. After examining climate and natural resource risks, the United States landed in fourth place, behind Austria and France.
“Food security is in reverse,” Robert Powell, senior consultant with the Economist Intelligence Unit in New York, told Bloomberg. “If we’re aiming for zero hunger, we’re going in the wrong direction.”
A United Nations report claims that the estimated number of people suffering from hunger as of 2016 is 815 million. In 2015, there were 777 million — an increase of 38 million over the course of a single year. This is largely due to conflict in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast and Western Asia; famine and food shortages in South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen; and flooding in areas affected by the El Niño phenomenon — a band of warm ocean water that creates tropical cyclones — and other climate-related issues.
“Ireland has roared back marvelously from the banking crisis, and their agriculture research and development has increased,” Powell told Bloomberg. In the U.S., “we haven’t seen that level of public-sector investment.”
If you’d like to lend a hand in lifting millions of people out of hunger, here are 51 ways to fight hunger in America.