World Food Day
By Susan Makos, Mercy Investment Services
‘Feed the hungry’ is an ethical imperative for the universal Church as she responds to the teachings of her Founder, the Lord Jesus, concerning solidarity and the sharing of goods. Moreover, the elimination of world hunger has also, in the global era, become requirement for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet.
-Pope Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate (2009, no.27).
World Food Day is celebrated each year on October 16 to recognize the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), which focuses on increasing global attention on issues surrounding food supply. It aims to raise levels of nutrition around the globe, improve agricultural productivity, enhance lives of rural populations and contribute to the growth of the world economy. In an effort to focus attention to soaring food prices, the 2011 World Food Day theme is “Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability.” These significant increases have forced an estimated 70 million people into extreme poverty.
As one of its shareholder advocacy goals, Mercy Investment Services, along with our colleagues at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), engages with companies on issues related to sustainable food supply. In 2011, our focus was on engaging food and beverage companies such as McDonalds, Kraft Foods, and PepsiCo on their responsible production of nutritional products in both developed and developing countries.
Mercy Investment Services co-filed a resolution with McDonalds and engaged the company in conversation on the linkages between fast food and childhood obesity and diet-related diseases such as diabetes. Following its annual meeting, McDonalds announced it would serve a healthier Happy Meal. We also engaged companies including Coca-Cola on agricultural production methods in its supply chain, including environmental as well as human rights concerns.
Currently, through our collaboration with ICCR, Mercy Investment Services is expanding our focus to include food commodity speculation and how we can support sustainable local farm operations. Visit Mercy Investment Services for more information on collaborative corporate engagements on food issues with ICCR.
Read a white paper by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to find out more information about World Food Day and the effects of high increases in food prices.