(CBS) — During the holidays, many of us enjoy big meals with friends and friends, but around the world millions of people are starving.
Every day, the United Nations World Food Program steps up to help the hungry. CBS 2’s Mai Martinez introduces us to the Chicago woman in charge of making it happen.
Ertharin Cousin grew up on Chicago’s West Side, in the Lawndale neighborhood, the oldest daughter of a social worker and community organizer.
“Growing up, service was part of who we were as a family,” Cousin says.
As the head the United Nations’ World Food Program, she’s doing that on a scale she never imagined. The program feeds between 80 million and 100 million people each year.
The organization’s work in Syria was recently profiled on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” It’s just one of more than 70 countries where WFP does humanitarian work.
“The best thing about my job is I work with some of the bravest people in the world, and we don’t just bring food, we bring hope to people,” she says.
Cousin is based out of Rome, Italy, and her work takes her around the world, but she says there’s no place like Chicago. She is, however, saddened by some of the changes she’s seen in her neighborhood and others on the west and south sides of the city.
“The guns, the drugs, the sense of hopelessness that you see into too many of our neighborhoods,” Cousin says.
Her advice to young people growing up in a distressed neighborhood: “Anything’s possible. The responsibility you have as a young person is to be your best.
WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian organization. It is 100 percent voluntarily funded by governments, businesses and individuals.
The U.S. provides the most funding and because of that, Cousin will be in Washington D.C. in January to personally thank congress and the Obama administration for their support.