Hunger contributes to more deaths each year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Right now, one in nine people worldwide — or nearly the populations of the U.S. and Europe combined — are struggling to find their next meal.

Ironically, more than half of the world’s hungry are small farmers — the very same people who grow food for a living — many of whom are women. Children are also especially vulnerable to hunger. Poor nutrition in a child’s first two years of life causes irreversible damage to the mind and body. Hungry babies can’t grow, hungry children can’t learn and hungry parents can’t free themselves from poverty.

"Providing food to families in need is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do."

Increasingly volatile weather patterns are threatening the livelihood of farmers across the globe, but it’s not just the people who grow our food who are being impacted. Hurricanes, droughts and floods disproportionately effect communities that are the least able to withstand such shocks. Natural disasters are becoming more frequent while land and water resources are becoming more strained.

Escalating conflict

These unpredictable climate conditions come at a pivotal time. By the end of the century, there will be nearly 10 billion people to feed on the planet—a population that will require farmers to harvest more food in the next 75 years than has been produced in all of human history.

Meanwhile, escalating conflict in countries like Syria, Iraq and South Sudan has driven millions of families from their homes and into hunger. In fact, there are more refugees in the world right now than at any other time since World War II.

Despite these challenges and the ever-growing number of people to feed, we are winning the fight against hunger. Ten years ago, there were more hungry people than there are today. That’s thanks in large part to solutions that empower communities while tackling the unique challenges of hunger in the 21st century in smart, sustainable ways.

A sustainable future

These solutions include life-saving nutrition programs for mothers and young children; school meals that provide a lifeline for students in the world’s poorest classrooms by offering vital nutrition and promoting education; and better agricultural training and tools to boost the harvest of small farmers so they can move from subsistence to success in the marketplace.

Providing food to families in need is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Hunger feeds on inequality, scarcity and chaos. But food, in addition to saving lives, fosters economic growth and stability.

When it comes to the global food supply, we’re all in this together. And together, we can solve hunger for good.