The World Food Program says for the first time in history, the number of hungry people worldwide will exceed one billion this year.
The huge amount of people facing food insecurity has prompted the U.N. organization to appeal to individuals for the first time.
WFP launched the Billion for a Billion online campaign Saturday to get one billion people living in the developed world to give one dollar a week to the campaign at www.wfp.org/1billion.
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the small weekly support could transform lives.
She said donor governments have supported WFP efforts in the past, but they cannot be expected to do so anymore because of the financial pressure they are facing in the worldwide economic downturn.
Sheeran made the online campaign announcement ahead of the World Food Summit beginning Monday in Rome, where world leaders are meeting to find solutions to the growing number of hungry people in the world.