FLORENCE, S.C. (WBTW) — The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce held its annual members’ luncheon Thursday afternoon. Former Gov. David Beasley presented to the group about his efforts to fight world hunger as executive director of the United Nations World Food Program.

“People say congratulations on the Nobel Peace Prize,” Beasley said. “I say well, I got those values from Florence, Darlington, Lamar, Society Hill, home.”

Beasley shared statistics about the organization’s work.

“We feed about 120 million people on any given day, week or month,” Beasley said.

He said more than 270 million people worldwide don’t know where their next meal will come from. 41 million are approaching famine. He said those numbers have risen in recent years due in part to COVID-19 and climate extremes.

“We’re out there and we see more drought, more flooding,” Beasley said. “It’s changing out there and poor people cannot wait.”

He called on the wealthy to do their part to help those in need.

“These billionaires made 5.2 billion dollars net worth increase per day during the height of COVID. They need to give back. I need six billion dollars just for the 41 million people in serious trouble because of COVID,” Beasley said. “How about you just give me one day’s worth of your net worth increase. Is that too much to ask? No.”

Beasley said he hopes his presentation will inspire local business leaders to do their part ot help within their own community.

“There are poor in your neighborhood that need your help,” Beasley said. “These are the movers and shakers. They create jobs and opportunities and that’s what solves poverty.”

Beasley served as the Republican governor of South Carolina from 1995 to 1999. He became executive director of the World Food Program in 2017.