February 24 marks the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The conflict has had a devastating impact on Ukraine’s food system, leading to widespread hunger and contributing to a global food shortage.
Ukraine is known as Europe’s breadbasket and is one of the world’s top three grain exporters. With the ongoing conflict, very little product was able to leave the country. An agreement reached in July between Russia and Ukraine allowed grain to return to the market. Some experts believe this agreement helped the world avoid catastrophic economic and humanitarian disasters.
While grain is starting to ship, much of the world is still struggling with the shortage, especially in countries already vulnerable to food insecurity, such as Somalia, which is close to being a catastrophic food emergency.
Timeline of Russian Invasion of Ukraine
On February 24, 2022, Russia attacked Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. As a result, thousands fled the country amid the war and violence.
According to the United Nations, March of 2022 saw more civilians were killed in the war than any other month. Over 3,300 civilians were killed and 2,410 were injured during those early days. Most of the injuries and deaths came from the explosive weapons that were used.
Soon after, Ukrainian fighters surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol, a port city, after weeks of bombings that continued to take civilian lives.
In the fall, Ukraine was able to retake most of the northeastern Kharkiv region and recaptured the city of Lyman in Donetsk Province. An explosion sent shockwaves through Russia when the Kerch Strait Bridge was damaged in October. Russia led an aggressive campaign against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure two days after the explosion.
Under pressure, Russian forces withdrew from Kherson, and Ukraine began using drones to attack military bases inside Russia. As winter set in, soldiers on both sides of the conflict faced harsh, bitter conditions.
Adding to the heavy toll are the nearly 5 million people displaced within Ukraine, the 8 million people seeking refuge in neighboring countries across Europe, and millions more in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Impact of the War on Ukraine’s Food System
The war in Ukraine has significantly impacted the country’s food system. Many farmers in eastern Ukraine have been forced to abandon their land, and the conflict has disrupted the supply chains for food production and has seen the destruction of food storage facilities. This makes it extremely difficult for people to access the food they need to feed their families.
As the war continues to displace families from their homes, the number of people without enough to eat increases daily. Right now, according to some experts, one in three families living in Ukraine is hungry.
Working to Feed the People of Ukraine
Last winter, Food for Life Global mobilized a team to bring hot vegan meals to civilians and refugees in light of the conflict.
Our emergency team out of London started setting up stations at Ukraine’s borders, distributing food to those fleeing their homeland.
While the local team worked directly in Ukraine and have so far served over 674,000 plates of hot vegan meals since the start of the conflict. Team members faced the challenges of operating in a country torn by violence. They simply refused to give up and worked diligently to get plant-based food to people and at least put a smile on some of their faces.
How You Can Support Relief Efforts
There are many ways you can support FFLG’s Ukrainian team. Donations are a powerful way to get plant-based food into hungry bellies. FFLG can provide one plant-based meal in Ukraine for around $1 USD, so your funds will go further when you support our food relief efforts. Visit our donation page to donate with card, cryptocurrency, or stocks.
If donating isn’t possible, there are other ways you can support the people of Ukraine:
- Follow us on social media and share our posts. This helps to raise awareness of the ongoing crisis people are facing.
- If you’re not already following a plant-based diet, consider eliminating meat and dairy products from your diet. As the world faces a grain shortage, one of the things you can do at your dinner table is to eat less meat. Animals consume much of the grain produced in the world, and eating more vegetables means there is more grain to feed people experiencing extreme food shortages.
The anniversary of the war in Ukraine is a somber reminder of the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the impact being felt worldwide. The conflict has devastated Ukraine’s food system, leaving millions of people hungry and plunging countries already suffering from food insecurity into a crisis.
“War is ugly; it is dirty, exhausting, discouraging, and violent. Please join our team on the ground to at least put a smile on some people’s faces. FFL is their only hope. ~ Peter O’Grady, – FFLG Emergency Team Lead