October 16, 2020
World Food Day — celebrated on October 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 throughout the year.
Each year, Presbyterian congregations join with partners around the country to lift up World Food Day during the Food Week of Action — October 11–18. Food Week of Action starts the Sunday before World Food Day and ends on the Sunday after it. This week also includes the International Day for Rural Women (Oct. 15) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 17).
This year especially, as the Black Lives Matter movement spreads across all sectors of society, we must understand that our food grows on land stolen from Native peoples and that it is a system founded on plantation agriculture and slavery. Furthermore, that racism continues to taint many aspects of the food chain in addition to despoiling God’s Creation. 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 dangerous conditions and poverty wages. During Food Week especially, we commit to act. We commit to work for 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.
The theme of this year’s Food Week is “hopeful harvest,” because thousands of groups around the world are working tirelessly for a food system that puts people and God’s Creation first. As communities around the world face the pandemic and vulnerable food chains, people are realizing the necessity of more resilient agricultural systems that treat workers well and protect the planet. Family farmers, fishers and other producers are adopting and spreading agroecological practices and pushing for food sovereignty. Food Week highlights the actions and campaigns for the 60-plus cosponsoring organizations that are building a better food system — while also tackling the economic and racial drivers of hunger, poverty and oppression.
Find more information on the Food Week of Action and World Food Day at pcusa.org/foodweek.
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 Church (U.S.A.)
Today’s Focus: World Food Day
Let us join in prayer for:
Let us pray:
Loving, compassionate God, we are emboldened by your vision of the Beloved Community. On this day, we envision 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 provide needed nutrition to children developing their physical and mental capacities, to unemployed people and seniors struggling to pay for groceries, and for everyone who must suffer the indignity of hunger in a world of plenty. Today, we also remember the grueling labor of all the workers — from farmworkers and farmers, to people processing and shipping our food, from cashiers at retail shops to everyone who heats up or cooks 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.