October 16, 2021
World Food Day — celebrated on Oct. 16 every year — commemorates the founding in 1945 of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The FAO was created to respond to famines and the tragedy of hunger in a world of God’s abundance. Despite the abundance of land, water, nutrients, and sunlight on this precious planet, even in the 21st century, hundreds of millions of people go hungry on Oct. 16 and every day of the year.
Each year, Presbyterian congregations join with partners around the country (and globe) to lift up World Food Day during the Food Week of Action – from the Sunday before World Food Day until the Sunday after. The week also includes the International Day for Rural Women (Oct. 15) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17).
The Black Lives Matter and the Land Back movements remind us that our food has been grown on land stolen from Native peoples in a food system founded on plantation agriculture and slavery. Furthermore, it is racism that harms workers in the food chain. The very workers who provide our daily bread — those who plant, harvest and serve our food — are disproportionately people of color and are subjected to insufficient protection from COVID-19, dangerous conditions and poverty wages.
During Food Week, especially, we commit to act. We commit to work for transformational policies, at the local, state and national levels, and to spend our dollars on food produced and brought to us in ways that promote a sustainable, just and equitable food system.
People and Planet First is the theme of this year’s Food Week of Action. People and Planet First means prioritizing family farmers, fishers and others producing in harmony with nature — agroecologically — and achieving food sovereignty. As communities continue to face the pandemic and vulnerable food chains, we realize the necessity of building resilient agricultural systems that protect and cool the planet and put farmers and workers first. This year’s Food Week highlights groups and initiatives that are building an equitable and sustainable food systems, while also tackling the economic and racial causes of hunger, poverty and oppression.
Food Week highlights the actions and campaigns of the 75-plus cosponsoring organizations that are building a better more equitable food system. Visit pcusa.org/foodweek information and resources on the Food Week of Action and World Food Day.
In your congregation, everyone can learn more about eating and the related issues of health, environment, the sacredness of food, and community building with the “Just Eating? Practicing Our Faith at the Table” curriculum. The curriculum has spurred new farmers markets, advocacy on the Farm Bill and church-based food initiatives. Go to pcusa.org/justeating to download the free curriculum. You may also get ideas from the “Food Sovereignty for All: Overhauling Our Food System with Faith-Based Initiatives Guide” found at bit.ly/phpfoodfaith.
Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate for National Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program
Today’s Focus: Food Week of Action and World Food Day
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Jennifer Barr, Reference & Outreach Archivist, Presbyterian Historical Society
Andrew Kang Bartlett, Associate, National Hunger Concerns, Presbyterian Hunger Program, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Let us pray
Loving God, we are inspired by your vision of the Beloved Community. We know that such community begins with everyone being fed, so on this World Food Day, we imagine a world where everyone has enough affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food. We confess that we have not done enough to guarantee the God-given right to food. Give us the strength to push for local and national policies that ensure children have sufficient nourishment to develop their bodies and minds. May the people who are unemployed, undocumented, unhoused and incapacitated have enough to pay for groceries. May we remember everyone who must suffer the indignity of hunger in a world of plenty. Today, we also remember the grueling labor of all the workers — farmworkers and farmers, people processing and shipping our food, cashiers at restaurants and each person who prepares a meal across the planet. We give our gratitude for their labor and pray that through our actions and your love, they will be safe, healthy, fairly compensated, respected and celebrated! Amen.
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