Already today I have had a nutritious breakfast of oatmeal, a delightful coffee break at our church’s “Coffee, Tea, and Theology” book club meeting, and the knowledge that our refrigerator and pantry are stocked with enough food to provide nutritionally sound and tasty meals for many days.
Yet, there are many in the United States, and millions more in nations around the world that have no clue where there next meal will come from. How can that be? Here in America about half of the food produced goes to waste. One would think that in this land of opportunity all children and families would have access to enough nutritious food to survive and thrive. Sadly this is not the case. According to an article printed in Catholic News Service the 2012 House Agricultural Appropriations Bill removed nutrition assistance from 600,000 young women, infants, and children through the WIC program while failing to address risk management for vegetable and fruit growers. For the first time ever the United States does not produce enough fruits and vegetables for our people to get the recommended daily requirement of essential vitamins and minerals.
We live in a nation where “food deserts” are the norm in the most poverty-stricken locales. Food deserts, according to the Centers for Disease Control, are “areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.” Yes, in our land of plenty, too many people go to bed malnourished and/or hungry each night. Not every town has a fine local market or a big box grocery with aisle upon aisle of healthy food. The poorest people often have access only to the poorest quality, high-calorie, low nutrient food.
Yes, the issue is complicated. Poverty is an insidious and multifaceted nightmare. The answers are not easy, but there are solutions–and they are within our reach. So tonight as I heat up that leftover vegetarian chili and put a healthy salad on the table, I will give thanks for my full belly, for access to plentiful food and good nutrition, and that I am able to feed my family. I will also ask God to guide me to make a difference and to find ways to alleviate the hunger and suffering of my neighbors.
Lord, thank you for good food and a warm home. May this food strengthen me to do your will. Make me uncomfortable enough with the injustice of hunger in America to find ways to make a difference. Amen.
How can researching and understanding the problems and issues of hunger and American equip you more effectively to address the situation and make a difference? How does your thanks-living move you to serve the hungry?
Photo by homesbythomas used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!