So, between 2003-2005 and 2007, 75 million people were pushed into hunger, the most rapid rate since records of world hunger started; estimates suggest that an additional 40 million people were pushed into hunger in 2008. In some regions, food expenditures may now constitute 60% of household income. Poor households respond by cutting back on "first the diversity and quality, and then the quantity and safety of diets" -- with mothers normally the first to sacrifice their nutritional needs. If these mothers are pregnant, undernutrition will increase maternal and child mortality, and cause irreversible damage to their children's health, including stunting, wasting, behavioral problems, and high blood pressure and heart disease.
The Standing Committee recommends that states respond to the financial crisis with cash transfers and social services for the poor, including nutrition supplements for mothers and young children and treatment of severe acute malnutrition, as well as nutrition education programs for pregnant and lactating women linked to local food production. The report concludes:
maternal and child undernutrition indicators should be among the principal evaluative yard sticks for measuring the success of government led efforts to contain the negative impact of the financial crisis. This is especially true where new funding efforts are concerned, such as the World Bank proposed Vulnerability Fund, which should give special priority to funding these nutrition actions as essential elements of social protection programmes aimed at [mitigating the] effects of the financial crisis. . .