Never Again Should a People Starve in a World of Plenty

Before you read any further, please zoom into the picture below. The Irish Famine Monument was cast by Maurice Harron, a northern Irish sculptor. It was dedicated to the President of Ireland on the 150th anniversary of the Irish Potato Famine’s darkest year.

The monument pensively depicts the brutal separation of a family due to the Great Hunger.

This picture was taken a few years back at the Cambridge Common, Boston. My wife and I were with our friends and I noticed a disheveled old man in front of the monument. I would love to have taken a picture of the monument by itself but the old man was fast asleep. Without thinking twice, I captured the scene and continued our morning stroll.

After we got back from our trip, I scanned through hundreds of images on my camera and this particular picture stood out. I was lost in thoughts galore for hundreds of pendulum swings. The picture had a strong grip on me and several questions flashed through my mind such as:

  1. Did the old man intentionally choose that spot?
  2. Was he hungry? Should I have fed him?

As I grappled with these unsettling thoughts, the writing on the monument echoed “never again should a people starve in a world of plenty”.

Where I grew up, people suffering from starvation was a very common sight. Whenever my family ate out, we would deliberately order excess food and give it away to underprivileged people on the street. The joy on their faces was indescribable and this little act of love consummated the idea of eating out.

If we consider the amount of food that’s being trashed in our society, it could feed several villages in certain countries. The very thought is disturbing. Yet, not much is being done to explore possibilities.

A friend of mine who works at an assisted living community mentioned that daily, almost fifty percent of food ends up in the garbage and that the management is unwilling to spare excess food to shelters and other impoverished communities due to legal implications. In simple terms, if a person falls sick from consuming the food, he/she has the right to blame the provider. The dichotomy is heart-wrenching.

Is the law holding people back from acts of kindness? Have we as a society become so rigid that humane gestures are subdued by fear? I still don’t have an answer. If you do, I would like to hear your thoughts.


Ranjith Abraham
Ranjith Abraham
Ranjith Abraham is a pharmaceutical professional focussed on patient safety through accurate labeling. He is also the songwriter/piano player for Miles Apart, a global musical endeavor that enables friends around the globe to collaborate and create music virtually. He believes in storytelling and in the mantra that no matter how trivial our offerings are, we must allow the recipients to define their worth. Though challenging, Ranjith is grateful for the opportunity to parent his son and daughter. Born and raised in India, he now lives with his wife and kids in Philadelphia. Ranjith draws inspiration to write from life lessons that are tucked away in the insignificant happenings around him. His passion for music/photography fuels creativity and helps him genuinely connect with people. A firm believer of the equation ‘Leadership = Servanthood’, Ranjith’s vision is to positively influence people so they can impact their world through timely and meaningful contributions.

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  1. I do not know the Anglo-Saxon law but I can remember that in Italy a law has been issued to encourage, encourage, make the distribution of excess food less bureaucratized, setting guidelines. In France, even heavy penalties have been set for those who do not donate these foods for bad charity in the trash.
    I am therefore surprised if there could be a risk of liability for those who deliver excess food to charity.
    However, I think there is a check that can rule out that food can be harmful to the recipients.