FAO in North America

Poets call for empathy and action towards a hunger-free world

Molly Burack, Hiram Larew and Alice Major join World Food Day webinar hosted by FAO North America.

15 October 202, Washington, DC – Ahead of World Food Day, Poetry X Hunger in partnership with FAO North America and the Capital Area Food Bank are pleased to share noteworthy poems from the United States and Canada that were submitted to the 2021 World Food Day Special Call for Poetry.    

World Food Day, celebrated annually on 16 October, aims to raise awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger, provide healthy diets for all, and promote sustainable agri-food systems. It also marks the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1945. 

The 2021 World Food Day theme and topic for the Special Call, “Our Actions Are Our Future,” focuses on building sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food systems that value food heroes, who ensure that food reaches our table.

The Call for Poetry received 153 submissions, with 28 from Canada and 125 from the US. The submissions were assessed by readers, all fine poets, Maritza Rivera (Maryland, USA), Josephine LoRe (Alberta, Canada) and Brian Donnell James (Virginia, USA). Many of the  poems will be posted on Poetry X Hunger's website over the coming days, weeks and months, and will be promoted on the FAO North America and CAFB platforms.

Two of the poems were highlighted at a World Food Day webinar hosted by FAO North America on 13 October 2021 (watch the webinar). Molly Burack from Oregan recited her poem “Spaghettios with fresh oregano.” Alice Major joined from Alberta, Canada to recite "HUNGER: A Never Satiated Sonnet" by Thomas Schuelke who is also from Alberta. 

“As the poems submitted to this year’s Special Call demonstrate, poets are speaking up in powerful ways about hunger, malnutrition, sustainable food systems, food waste and the like” said Hiram Larew, Founder, Poetry X Hunger. “In fact, as a result of sustained support from FAO and many others, more than 250 new and potent poems about hunger’s many facets are now posted on the Poetry X Hunger website (www.PoetryXHunger.com). These are all freely available for use in Speaking Back to Hunger.  Thanks to poet Aaron R. for helping to administer this year’s Call.” 

“It has been great working with Poetry X Hunger and CAFB on the Special Call for poetry. I am so pleased that we are adding poetry to the advocacy toolbox of anti-hunger causes. As a former English major, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through the poems, which are both moving and inspiring. I encourage you all to check them out and share,” said Jocelyn Brown Hall, Director, FAO North America.

“For people everywhere – across the globe and in our local neighborhoods - food is a powerful and essential part of our human experience,” said Hilary Salmon, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at CAFB. “The Capital Area Food Bank is honored to partner with FAO North America and Poetry X Hunger to shine a light on food insecurity and other critical food issues facing our world through the artistry of so many talented poets.”

Inspired by the poems, Rebecca Roach donated nearly 1,200 tree seedlings for planting around the world. “Thanks to each poet's contributions and Eden Reforestation Partners, these creative works are funding fair-wage employment through the rebuilding of complex forest ecosystems upon which we all depend,” said Roach. 

The World Food Day call for poetry was initiated in 2018, and was preliminarily open to poets in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. This year’s Special Call was open more broadly to showcase the diversity of North American poets who are Speaking Back to Hunger.   

To learn more about the World Food Day call for poetry, contact: [email protected] or visit: https://www.poetryxhunger.com/.