Bad news: people are starving to death; 16,000 children die every day from hunger-related causes.
Good news: God has mercy and God is helping us! We are being preserved in spite of famine, scripture says.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
(Ps 33:4-5, 18-19, 20, 22)
I am a great lover of food. Much of my life has been centered around it. I grew up in a farming community and family. I knew how to pull weeds before I knew how to read. I knew how to bake and cook before I knew how to drive. I understood how to milk animals before I knew how to type.
Today my younger sister and her husband are organic farmers. My parents and my brother now own and run a world famous restaurant, in the middle of nowhere. But I live in the city, away from the family food business. I tend to go grocery shopping, read cookbooks and then invent and share new culinary creations for fun. Plus, I love gardening; when work is really difficult at the high school I fantasize about giving it all up and becoming a gardener or a baker.
Food is such a big deal to me that I entered a Eucharistic-centered community, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, before I was 25. We’ve been adoring Jesus as Eucharist for over 133 years and it is very rad.
Obviously I am not unique because my life is centered around food. It is for all of us. God designed it that way on purpose. It’s sacramental. It’s unifying. It’s life-giving. It’s essential. I’m grateful.
Food is also oppressive. The systems that control our consumption cause people to starve while others throw food away. In the United States, we keep getting fatter while the rest of the world riots and dies because of food costs. I wrote a bit about this for a Mexican food blog last week. The reasons why our food problems are so severe are complicated, economical and political.
As we gain awareness of the truth, we tend to be converted. The freedom paradoxically requires us to be mindful and responsible. It’s an act of solidarity and community. Since food unites us, when any person in the body of Christ- in humanity- is suffering, we all are suffering. For Lent this year I am working hard to simplify my diet, trying to fast, praying for those that are hungry and advocating for systemic justice.
This week at the high school I am leading two big events. Please pray for me and my students! On Wednesday my seniors are hosting a Peace and Justice Fair. They’ve analyzed complex social problems and will now try to inform the community and inspire others to meaningful social action. On Friday, we are hosting a Food Fast. The students will not eat for 24 hours, but still be very busy, as an act of solidarity and prayer for people who frequently go 24 hours without eating but keep working hard. I have games and activities planned to teach about global hunger and the students will engage in acts of service.
It’s really not that hard to make a difference. Like my students, you can play games at FreeRice.com and donate rice to the UN WFP. You can click (and shop for Fair Trade goods) at The Hunger Site and donate 1.1 cups of food. You can learn about the challenges of farming and survival in the developing countries by playing a game here. And, you can learn about living in poverty in the United States by playing a game here.
There are several other meaningful social actions that really make a difference. You can literally buy an animal for a community in poverty through the Heifer Project. And, of course, you can pray, fast, give, advocate, and try out simple recipes through the Catholic Relief Services rice bowl campaign.
Together, we fast with hope and trust that our merciful God is leading us through the messy famines and injustices. As I eat, I believe that the nourishment shall wake us all up to the heavy truth that we already have enough, we just need to learn how to share. This sharing is the simple way that Jesus taught us, it is the way of freedom.
Photo courtesy of Catholic Relief Services.