The year 2003 broke all records for the United Nations World Food Programme, which reached 110 million hungry people with food aid — the highest number in its 40 year history. Right up to the close of 2003 when the earthquake struck in Iran, WFP responded fast by delivering high energy biscuits for the quake victims.

In Iraq, WFP carried out the largest humanitarian aid operation ever — at its peak moving 1,000 tons of food an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week — despite enormous obstacles. At the same time, WFP helped to feed some 40 million people across Africa.

“We are proud of our achievement in feeding so many of those in need, but we are acutely aware that they represent only a limited proportion of the world's hungry — many of them suffering in silence,” said James T. Morris, WFP's executive director.

According to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of chronically hungry has crept back up to almost 800 million people, having decreased in the early 1990s. The report said that without the political will to address the problem of hunger, except when war or a natural calamity briefly focuses global attention and compassion, the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of hungry by 2015 is remote.