I just learned that yesterday was World Food Day. So, happy World Food Day to you and allow me to explain exactly what that is. No, it’s not a holiday of eating as much as you can, in fact it’s quite the opposite. World Food Day was started as a day for those of us fortunate enough to have enough to eat to remember and take action towards helping those without, both in our communities and around the world. Globally we lose on average 25,000 people a day to hunger or hunger related illness. In the US alone we throw away about 263 million lbs of edible food every single day. It seems to me that there is something wrong with this picture. If you’re shocked by this, well quite frankly I don’t blame you. How does this happen? I’ll explain. Things like day old bread rarely get donated to homeless shelters, but many stores and restaurants are no longer allowed to serve or sell it. Bent boxes of pasta or cans of beans gets thrown in the dumpster. Canned goods past their expiration but that don’t actually go bad are routinely thrown away. Not to mention what we as consumers leave behind at restaurants or buy at the store and forget is in the fridge until it goes bad. We often take for granted the access to food in our country. We are blessed, but let it not be at the expense of others.
So, what can we do about this? Well the truth is, plenty. Most homeless shelters and soup kitchens ask local stores and restaurants for their less perishable but un-sell-able items. So why is this food being wasted? Well, how many people do you know that volunteer their time at a shelter? Chances are it’s a very small if existent percentage of your friends. So maybe call a volunteer center and see if they’ve already contacted your local grocery store/favorite restaurant for donations. If not offer to do so and drop off some goods after your weekly shopping or dinner out. Great places to contact are those with bakeries. They’re often happy to give away what’s left over at night.
What about the global issue? Obviously we can’t send our day old bread to Guatemala or Zambia. What can we do? Well not surprisingly just about all hunger issues are directly related to poverty issues. Sadly so many people suffering in other countries and in our own are precisely the people that supply us with our abundance. These are the produce pickers and the coffee roasters and the chocolate makers and food factory workers of the world. There are unfortunately two types of manufacturing companies. Those that exploit people’s poverty and those that work to fix it. You will see Fair Trade logos on many commonly imported foods and products. Yesterday I talked about Fair Trade Certified chocolate. As I mentioned we have a lot of influence on the world through what we purchase. Purchasing food that we know was produced fairly is one way to ensure that we are not keeping the cycle of poverty going. It really is our way of voting internationally.
So, friends, be informed about the products you purchase. Get involved in keeping food distributed in your community. It’s the little thoughtful buys that make the difference around the world and it’s that extra hour here and there that make the difference in your own backyard. There is plenty of food for all of us. Let’s all do our best to see that everyone has some.
Please remember friends that when you bless others, God blesses you.