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DES MOINES, Iowa- The World Food Prize opened formally in Des Moines at the Marriott on Wednesday, with the Borlaug Dialogues, talking about issues of hunger. The group marked the passing of the late Governor Robert D. Ray, for his work in helping refugees locate to Iowa escaping war back in the 70’s.

The opening ceremony recognized the winners of this year’s World Food Prize, Dr. Lawrence Haddad, and Dr. David Nabarro.

One session looked at how war is causing people to go hungry as government systems are broken.

“All four those countries, Somalia, Yemen, NE Nigeria and South Sudan are deeply characterized by fragmented societies and by governments who do not prioritize the needs of their citizens,” said Nancy Lindborg of the US Institute of Peace.

For a time it seemed world hunger was diminishing, now the numbers of hungry people are going back up.

“Today we’re sitting in a moment where we know the facts,” said Liz Schrayer, of the Global Leadership Coalition “One hundred twenty million people go to bed hungry every day, within that number, 30 million people are at risk of famine.”

“I’ve visited South Sudan, one of the places I’ve been to,” said Michael Lossen, of Save the Children. “On the one hand it’s gut wrenching, when you are seeing these families in such distress, it’s life changing.”

The symposium will run through Friday, with the Laureate award ceremony on Thursday evening at the Iowa State Capitol.