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Breaking Bread

Coming together for Zero Hunger

Story by World Food Programme April 10th, 2017

Flat, rounded, crispy, sweet, whole grain, unleavened — whatever its shape or taste, in cultures and religions across the world bread is associated with a sense of community, hospitality, companionship. The very word companion comes from the Latin 'cum panis', meaning 'with whom one eats bread.'

As Christian and Jewish families around the globe prepare to come together and share meals for Easter and Passover - like Muslims and others do to celebrate Eid and other important religious and traditional festivals - we are reminded that breaking bread also means taking part in the global effort to achieve Zero Hunger.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is working in over 80 countries to ensure that over 80 million hungry people have enough to feed not just their bodies, but also their dreams and aspirations.

In countries across the world, offering and sharing bread is an act of hospitality and companionship. Photo:WFP/Francesco Broli

An act of love

British singer and Global Ambassador Against Hunger Sami Yusuf described breaking bread as an act of giving, which symbolizes compassion, warmth, love.

Each year, WFP supports 80 million people in more than 80 countries. WFP Photo: WFP/Sven Thelin

A team effort

In the words of fellow Global Hunger Ambassador, Brazilian football player Ricardo Kaká, just as football teams need to share the ball if they want to play, we need to share food and break bread if we want to live in a peaceful and just world.

"Breaking bread is an act of love." Photo: WFP/Gabriele Giugni

A sense of community

In the Syrian countryside, even among the hardships of conflict and displacement, the tradition of offering bread to strangers and passers-by is still respected. Salwa's bread-making skills helped stave off hunger in the community that hosted her after she had to flee her home.

Salwa makes traditional saj bread for her neighbours using the flour she receives from WFP. She mixes the dough, flips it skillfully in a dance-like movement, and cooks it on an open wood fire.

“I refused to take money from my neighbours. After all, they had been so generous to welcome us in the village as a displaced family,” she recalls. But they insisted on paying her and now the community can enjoy fresh daily bread.


Asked "What does #breakingbread mean to you?" WFP followers shared their views on social media. Here is a selection of their tweets and Facebook comments.

“#BreakingBread, for me is sharing from my own plate. Whether it's enough for me or not, make sure it's more than enough to the other!! The greatest of all pleasures 👍 👍💝!!” - Shazia Khanam

“In other circumstances, sharing is not much about enjoying the good life but it becomes a responsibility to save lives.” - Daniela Anselmi, Italy

"To me it means sharing a table with the less fortunate." - Calvin Ongolah, Kenya

"Breaking bread means sharing or distributing your food with others."- Khalid Noorzad, Afghanistan

"Breaking bread is letting others know that we care. Humanity is all about sharing." - Cherine

Women trained  by WFP came together to start a bakery in Darfur, Sudan.  Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua
In many countries, soaring food prices are forcing vulnerable people to eat less, and less nutritious, food. Photo: WFP/Tania Moreno
WFP school meals feed the bodies and minds of more than 17 million children in over 60 countries. Photo: WFP/Elizabeth Zalkind
"Breaking bread means letting others know we care." Photo: WFP/Mohammad Batah


A photo of the #BreakingBread hashatag written on sand on a beach in Syria, sent in via Facebook.