What’s for dinner?

Today, October 16th is World Food Day!  I admit, I hadn’t heard about this until recently but I’m learning.

The first World Food Day was celebrated in 1981 and is held in recognition of the founding of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. In essence, the reason for its existence is to increase awareness of hunger and spark conversation on how to alleviate hunger worldwide.

According to the World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.  Feeding America estimates, even in the United States, 49 million people are forced to skip meals or go days without eating because of their financial situation.  This equates to 1 in 6 people but statistics show the rates are actually higher in children, 1 in 5 who go hungry.  Even with readily accessible food in grocery stores, it is not accessible to everyone.

This year’s World Food Day motto is “From Crisis to Stability”.  Where international markets are concerned, this is a complex topic and one I have very limited knowledge about. However, thinking community and bringing it closer to home, the World Food Day planners put together a nice Sunday dinner discussion guide to think about our relations with food.

It’s easy in the United States to forget “the story” of the items in your store, with farms generally being so separated from the supermarkets where we purchase the bulk of our food.  This guide suggests questions for your guests.  For instance, start by asking where your food comes from and taking a moment to remember the farmer’s who grew it. Other questions they suggest are:  if your guests know any farmers personally, do they grow any produce themselves, or have they personally been affected by price fluctuations in the market (ie. not able to make a favorite meal because of availability or price).

In my own home, before eating, this past year I started asking those at the table to share one thing for which they are grateful.  I found it a way to pause and acknowledge before eating. While there is so much conflict in the world, there too is positivity in our lives.

Do you have any rituals before eating to pause and acknowledge if you don’t have a formal prayer?

"hunger words" - World Food Day USA

Besides asking the questions, Oxfam provided a number of other aspects that affect the food supply chains.  I’ve chosen a few where we, in the United States, may make the biggest difference.

  1. Waste less.  According to Oxfam, sadly, even while some Americans go hungry, consumers here throw away as much as 25% of the food they buy.  In fact, we waste more than we donate in food-aid.  If we cut back on waste, at home and work, we could reduce the amount of food needed and ensure more than enough for others.  The best thing you could do is buy only what you need.  However, other ideas to reduce waste would be partnering with another family to go in on groceries or buy in bulk with others, share with your neighbors, church, family or friends if you realize things are going to go to waste, or donate to agencies and shelters with other families in your neighborhood regularly.
  2. Speak up about corn-ethanol programs.  The Environmental Protection Agency found that corn-based ethanol releases more greenhouse gas than standard gasoline. What a waste then to spend billions of tax dollars to turn corn into fuel!  Let your congress know to stop wasting the funds, write and vote.
  3. Support programs that support farmers.  We rely on farmers for our daily meals; yet, many of these individuals struggle to survive.  There are fewer legal protections for farm workers.  Let legislature know you want safe working environments for those who work on the farms.  In this country, many of the workers are immigrants, whether legal/illegal ask farms to grow responsible and ethical produce. There is w
  4. Voice your opinion via the almighty $$.  Only purchase from companies who support sustainable practices. Better yet buy locally grown food at your Farmer’s Markets or join food co-ops, delivering local fare.


Make everyday World Food Day!


Other things you can do:

Visit the World Food Day USA page –>  http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/

Sign the “One Billion Hungry” petition –> http://www.1billionhungry.org/

Sign up to help in other ways throughout the year –> Text 30644, type the word OXFAM

                                (Can text STOP at any time)

Donate to Feeding America http://feedingamerica.org/