World Food Day is October 16. According to Oxfam one in seven goes to bed hungry every night in our world. While it is often disputed as to whether there is enough food in the world, most experts agree that there is enough and that it is a matter of access for many individuals and families, especially women. If this is true, then might hunger be rooted in inequality and thus be determined by power as Oxfam suggests in their GROW campaign that aims to grow food and justice without wrecking the planet? 
The number of individuals who suffer from chronic hunger has increased over the long-term as did the requests for emergency food aid. Climate change is playing an ever increasing role in price volatility. Furthermore, price volatility influences one’s ability to feed her/his family. All appears to be a vicious cycle of need. To better understand those people who are hungry and malnourished, individuals are invited to reflect upon the patterns of ownership and decision-making when it comes to the production, distribution and consumption of food. Who owns? Who controls? Who pays? Who gets?

Jesus reminds us that one of the basic measures of how we live our lives will be how we cared for people in need, “For I was hungry and you gave me food” (Matthew 25:35; last judgment). Yet, according to Oxfam, about 80% of the world’s hungry people live in rural areas where most of them work as farmers, herders, fishers, or laborers. How is it that we can begin to address the neds of the millions of people who still do not have food on their plates?

Might this awareness also call us to action on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty that is observed on October 17? This observance can be traced back to 1987, more than 100,000 people gathered in Paris, France, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. The eradication of poverty calls for redistribution of many of Earth’s resources including an examination of individual resources and the sharing of these to those in greater need. 

Reflection/Action:

  • Practice the GROW method (Oxfam) of reducing food waste to make the most of the precious resources we have. (prepare meal plans ahead of shopping, save and eat leftovers, etc.)
  • Purchase products from small-scale food producers locally and from other countries. (purchase fair trade products and local farmers’ markets, advocate for small farmer and farm workers)
  • Cook smart to cut down on wasted energy and water usage. (use just enough water to cover vegetables on stove, use oven for baking more than one item at a time, unplug microwave/other appliances or place on switch to reduce electrical usage)
  • Purchase food that is in season to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. (what food is in season now? How am I planning to expand my vegetable garden next Spring?)
  • Eat less meat and dairy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce water use.
  • Urge governments and companies to make smarter investments in agriculture and climate. preparedness through purchasing power or in conversation.
  • Visit the Oxfam World Food Day website for more resources. (videos, faith group materials, discussion guide, etc)
  • Sign a petition to end world hunger. (Petition reads, “We who support this petition find it unacceptable that close to one billion people are chronically hungry. Through the United Nations, we call upon governments to make the elimination of hunger their top priority until that goal is reached.”)
  • Take time to educate yourself about the realities of those living in poverty or who suffer from hunger in your neighborhood.
  • Host a simple World Food Day dinner or fast and donate the proceeds to someone in need of food in your local area.
  • Arrange a food drive for a local pantry if your local area has such places.
  • Pray, remembering the 1.2 billion people in the world who live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25/day). A prayer service for potential editing is located here.
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