A slightly extreme campaign wants to bring attention to the plight of refugees.
How can we get people to notice and care about issues that are thousands of miles away? The 850 Calorie Challenge wants to bring it closer to home, all the way to your dinner plate. The background is this: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme have had to cut food rations for almost 800,000 refugees due to lack of funding and donations. The premise of the campaign is this: try to live on 850 calories, the amount of food that some refugees are now receiving, even for just a day.
The reduced rations are affecting refugees in Chad, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and South Sudan among other sub-Saharan Africa countries. The consequences for refugees, many of whom are already undernourished, can go beyond hunger and feed into “negative coping strategies” which include early marriage, domestic violence, and prostitution. António Guterres heads the UNHCR and said, "The number of crises around the world is far outpacing the level of funding for humanitarian operations, and vulnerable refugees in critical operations are falling through the cracks. It is unacceptable in today's world of plenty for refugees to face chronic hunger or that their children drop out of school to help families survive."
The 850 Calorie Challenge hopes to increase awareness and involvement on the issue. By thinking about our food intake, the campaign is aiming to expand our empathy so that it reaches back across those thousands of miles and ultimately can make a difference.