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World Food Day: Feast your Mind with the History and Themes


World food day is an event that is celebrated on October 16 each year. The objective is to raise awareness about the importance of ensuring adequate food for 11 billion people by 2050. The event has been celebrated since 1945 when the FAO established it with support from

the UN. World Food Day has played an important role in raising public awareness of the need for nutritious foods, reduced levels of hunger, and sustainable agricultural practices.

The celebrations highlight the importance of food in our lives and impact health, society, environment, and economy. Activities carried out on this day include conferences, exhibitions, street theater performances, debates, lectures, and marches.

World Food Day is a time to celebrate food and those who produce it.

The event focuses on three areas of interest:

– Sufficient quantity for all

– Accessibility by all

– Quality for all.

In 2009, an estimated 925 million people worldwide were undernourished, with some countries suffering from more acute crises, including Chad, Ethiopia, Madagascar, and others. In contrast, obesity can be found in many western European countries, North America and China, where nearly 300 million adults are believed to have a weight problem. Around 1 billion people suffer from being overweight or obese, according to a study conducted last year by the World Health Organization (WHO).

This alarming shift in global nutrition is one of the major health challenges of our time. The WHO has stated that malnutrition will jeopardize the prospects for the global development of future generations without urgent action.

The awareness around World Food Day is heightened by events including Live Below The Line, an annual movement that encourages people to live on $2 worth of food each day. Last year over 1 million people participated in this campaign, with 5,000 taking part in Cape Town alone. Volunteer Solutions also offers many volunteer opportunities to organizations worldwide, who have shared some excellent advice with us, helping you plan your own event or activity for World Food Day 2021.

world food day design with vegetables and banana

World Food day themes

This year’s theme is “Our actions are our future- Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.”

The theme for World Food Day 2020 was “Grow, Nourish, Sustain.”

The theme for World Food Day 2013 was “Change the future of migration.”

2012’s theme was “Sustainable Energy for All.”

2011’s theme was “Listen to the voices of children.”

2010’s theme was “Family Farming: Feeding the world, caring for the earth.”

2009’s theme was “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

2008’s theme was “#1 BY FAR!”

2007’s World Food Day theme was titled “Agricultural Innovation: Harvesting Lives.”

2006’s World Food Day theme was “From Hunger to Hope: Dignity in Action.” During that year, events were organized in 181 countries worldwide, reminding us all about the importance of food and its impact on global health and security.

2005’s World Food Day Theme focused on “Growing more Food for All,” and events were organized to highlight the importance of sustainable agricultural practices as well as the issue of hunger.

2004’s theme was “Combat HIV/AIDS.”

2003’s theme was “Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet Earth: Small Farmers Feed the World,” which focused on those who produce food, especially those living in poverty and dependant on limited resources and small plots of land.

2002’s theme was titled “Halving Hunger by 2015: A Partnership for Global Prosperity.” This year highlighted efforts to fight hunger at national and international levels, including political commitment, better policies, and more effective development aid. Throughout 2002 there were conferences held worldwide to discuss how we could combat this pressing, such as The Second International Conference on Nutrition, The World Food Summit: Five Years Later, Agricultural Policy Reforms in Europe, and the UN High-Level Conference on World Food Security.

2001’s theme was “Family Farming / Agriculture at the Heart of Rural Development.” This year also saw increased academic research conducted around food security issues, including the Nourishing the Nation Report published by Columbia University.

2000’s theme was “Rural People Feeding Cities.” This year brought to light how urbanization has negatively impacted agricultural practices and globalization, impacting farmers forced into unfair commercial agreements that often lead to poverty.

1999’s theme was “World Food Summit: five years later, highest commitment – new results,” which back over efforts made since the World Food Summit held in Rome, Italy in 1996.

1998’s theme was “From Words to Action: Securing the Future of our Food.” This year also saw the launch of GroAIDS – an AIDS awareness campaign designed to raise funds for food relief aimed towards sub-Saharan Africa, where major population centers are located near the equator. The campaign focused on how malnutrition can lead to illness and death, especially among children who are more susceptible due to their immune systems being compromised as a result of HIV/AIDs

1997’s theme was “Building Partnerships along the Food Chain,” which emphasized that farming is not just about agriculture but about partnerships established between farmers, banks, governments, suppliers, and retailers.

1996’s theme was “We the Peoples: Partners for Development and Social Justice,” which promoted that we as individuals can make a difference in promoting social justice and fighting hunger.

1995’s theme was “Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development – A Role for Society.” This year’s focus was on how food insecurity is connected to agricultural practices, environmental degradation, overpopulation, scientific advancement, and globalization.

1994’s theme was “Good Health is Essential to Economic Success,” highlighting the impact malnutrition has on economic productivity at national and international levels.

1993’s theme was “Keepers of the Seeds/Sowers of Hope,” which focused on family farmers responsible for growing three-quarters of our food supply.

1992’s theme was “Agriculture is Key to Development,” highlighting how food security is linked to agricultural practices.

1991’s theme was “Planting the Seeds of Peace for a World with More Food.” The year also included an International Symposium on Population and Land Use in Bangladesh

1990’s theme was “A Vision of Food Security for All.” This year focused on land, water, natural resources, and environmental degradation as they impact agriculture.

1989’s theme was “Feeding People through Freedom,” which promoted that freedom leads to peace, leading to food security.

1988’s theme was “We are Children of this Earth,” which featured special events emphasizing sustainable development, including the UNEP/UNESCO panel discussion linking population growth with the environment.

1987’s theme was “Agriculture at the Crossroads,” which included discussing how food production should provide for people and the environment.

1986’s theme was “Agriculture is a Stakeholder in Development,” which focused on sustainable development issues including land degradation, deforestation, population growth, and overgrazing related to food security.

1985’s theme was “Food Security: The Challenges of Implementing an International Strategy.”

1984’s theme was “Agricultural Systems Must Produce More Food on Less Land to Sustain Human Life.” This year brought about discussions related to genetic engineering, desertification, and agricultural subsidies

1983’s theme was “World Food Security: A Challenge and a Promise.” The year was highlighted by the World Food Conference, which emphasized the need for both increased food production and equitable distribution.

1982’s theme was “Food Security: A Global Imperative.”

1981’s theme was “International Cooperation Needed to Solve the Critical Problems of World Agriculture.”

1980’s theme was “World Agriculture: Meeting Present Needs, Protecting Future Generations.”

1979’s theme was “Agriculture at a Crossroad: People, Technology and International Cooperation,” which focused on how food production should provide for people as well as its environmental impacts

1978’s theme was “The Green Revolution/World Food Problem: New Frontiers in Agriculture,” which discussed how agricultural development could achieve food security.

1977’s theme was “Food for People, Not for Profit.”

1976’s theme was “World Food Congress: Food Security and Peace–Challenges to the International Community,” which highlighted the World Food Conference held in November of that year

1975’s theme was “Agriculture at a Crossroads,” which focused on providing food for people and its environmental impacts.

1974’s theme was “Feeding Humanity in Freedom.”

1973’s theme was “For World Agricultural Progress,” highlighting the Committee on Agriculture meeting held that year.

1972’s theme was “Agriculture Must Meet Needs of Mankind.”

1971’s theme was “Food for People, Not for Profit,” emphasizing making food production more efficient. The year also included a panel discussion led by FAO’s director-general on how to increase agricultural production

1970’s theme was “World Agriculture: Meeting Present Needs and Protecting Future Generations.”

1969’s theme was “Man and Agriculture–What Now?”

1968’s theme was “Man and His Food.”

1967’s theme was “Man Tames Nature, but is Nature Tamed?”

1966’s theme was “Agriculture in the Service of Mankind.” 1965’s theme was “Recent Trends of World Agricultural Development.”

1964’s theme was “What Should be the Role of Agriculture in National Economies?”

1963’s theme was “World Agriculture,” which discussed how the world could increase agricultural production.

1962’s theme was “Agriculture and Peace.”

1961’s theme was “The Land–The Challenge to Increase Agricultural Production.”

1960’s theme was “Food: The Big Problem of Mankind.”

1959’s theme was “Planning for Better Food Security.”

1958’s theme was “Fighting Hunger Worldwide.”

1957’s theme was “People and Their Food.”

1956’s theme was “Filling Our World with Plenty.”

1955’s theme was “International Cooperation in Agricultural Development.”

1954’s theme was “Better Living through Better Nutrition.”

1953’s 2015 saw an increased focus on food, nutrition, and food security.

1952’s theme was “The Food Problem—A Challenge to the International Community.”

1951’s theme was “Feeding Mankind as a World Problem.”

1950’s theme was “Let Us Find New Ways of Living on Earth.”

1949’s theme was “Food is Life: The Broad Front of Human Efficiency.”

1948’s theme was “World Agriculture: From Conflict and Competition to Cooperation and Collaboration.”

1947’s theme was “All-Over Farming: A Way Out of Crisis,” which emphasized the need for international cooperation to achieve food security amidst WWII.

1946’s conference took place in London, England, before WWI ended

1945’s theme was “Food for All: A Challenge to the World,” which emphasized the necessity of food security amid war-time rationing.

1944’s theme was “Crisis in World Agriculture,” which recognized the impact of WWII on food security and how it had forced countries to prioritize their resources

1943’s theme was “World Food Needs and Possible Production by 1943.”

1942’s theme was “The Basic Requirements of Life” 1941’s theme was “Feeding Mankind During Dark Hours.”

1940’s theme was “International Cooperation for More Agricultural Production–Now and After the War.”

1939’s theme focused on “More Food Now, More Food After The War.”

1938’s theme focused on “Agricultural Progress in Peace and War.”

1937’s theme was “World Food Requirements and Production in the Year

1937.” The next conference was scheduled to take place in 1946, but WWII put a hold on those plans

1936’s theme focused on “Food in an Era of High Civilization.”

1935’s theme focused on “Rural Life–The Backbone of National Life.”

1934’s theme had three parts: World Production and Consumption of Foodstuffs; World Distribution of Land Under Crops; World Trade in Agricultural Products. 1933’s focus was “Agricultural Cooperation for Better Living Conditions.”

1932’s focus was “Decreasing Reliance on Imports by Increasing Domestic Supplies.”

1931’s focus was “Sh Opportunities for Increasing World Production.”

1930’s theme focused on “Food Security, Its Economic and Political Aspects.”

1929’s theme focused on “Increasing Production of European Agri-Foodstuffs Without Decreasing Food Supplies to the Colonies.”

1928’s theme was “The Conditions of Agricultural Development in Europe.”

1927’s theme was “Food Supplies and Prosperity.”

1926’s theme was “What Can Governments Do to Promote International Cooperation in Agricultural Economics?”

1925’s theme was about increasing production without decreasing food supplies to colonies.

1924’s topic was ensuring improved conditions for rural populations worldwide.

1923’s topic centered around high tariffs impacting agriculture 1908 – No FAO conference took place 1907–1906’s theme was creating an international center for statistics on agricultural production.

1905’s topic was European agriculture and its problems.

1904’s focus was problems of European food supply.

1900 – 1903 — FAO held three conferences in Washington, D.C., USA

1878 No FAO conference took place

1877–“The first World Food Security Conference, called by the King of Italy Victor Emanuel II.”

1876- “First International Congress of Agriculture.”

1875-“Third International Geographical Congress.”

1874-“Fourth General Meeting of the Brussels Geographic Society.”

1872- “Second International Geographical Congress.”

1871-“First International Geographical Congress.”

1868 – 1870 — FAO held two conferences in Paris, France

1867- “1st Universal Exposition”

1866-“3rd Universal Exposition”

1865 – 1866 — FAO held one conference in Vienna, Austria


On October 16th every year, the United Nations celebrates World Food Day. This day is an opportunity to spread awareness of global food security and environmental sustainability in agriculture. The UN has set a goal of eradicating hunger by 2030—but reaching this ambitious target will not be easy, with the world population expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050! We hope that you’ll take some time on October 16th to commemorate World Food Day and pledge your support for ending hunger around the globe.

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