Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy World Food Day

Yes, today is World Food Day, the anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
I am celebrating by going to a meeting where grant apps will be reviewed. Our Sonoma County Food working group is looking for a piece of the pie, as it were, to conduct a survey of our food system and develop some base line indicators so we can track progress toward fresh, local food for all.
Studying the WFD web site, this photo caption caught my interest:
"What is adequate food? It means an amount and variety of food sufficient to meet all of one's nutritional needs for a healthy and active life. The right to food is more than the right to basic staples or to sufficient dietary energy."
Now, I resist the nutritionistas and the obesity police, but I would have to agree with them on this: many of our US children, most of them affluent by any global standard, are not having their right to adequate food honored as they subsist on chicken nuggets, Kraft dinner, artificially flavored and colored yogurt, cola and its cousins, with canned or frozen corn as a vegetable - as though they weren't getting enough corn in the other things.
The other thing that struck me as I read so many of the materials on the WFD site is this: food aid is a last or emergency resort. Adequate food requires that we address all the issues that impede people's ability to meet their dietary needs - land rights, environmental degradation, living wage, water resources. If a person is hungry it usually means that lots of other things have already gone wrong in their lives, most of them systemic issues. Hunger is the last symptom of a community that is not supporting the lives of its members.
I struggle with how we get churches to see that food aid for the hungry is the least we can do. Unless it is accompanied by other initiatives that work to develop or change policies that eradicate poverty, it's useless. Unless we look at the whole food system, we are only doing good for the next meal or the next day, not really doing anything to secure and sustain adequate food for all.
I'm posting the link to the Right to Adequate Food guidelines on the list to the right.
The excellent leaflet for World Food Day is available here.

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