Individuals and Families

What People of Faith Can do to Create Healthy Communities Through Food:

Community Food Security Begins with My Family and Me Practicing Our Faith at the Table

According to Michael Shut at Earth Ministry, “What we eat, where our food comes from, and how we eat are all expressions of our embeddedness in the fabric of creation and therefore our expression of our vision of faith.” Working to increase Community Food Security means expanding these ideas to include the right for everyone in the community to have access to healthy, affordable food.

WHAT WE EAT:

  • Learn what it is like to eat and feed your family while living in poverty. See the innovative “Poverty Diet” program of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy at www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org. A free, full curriculum including personal stories and statistics concerning hunger and poverty is available for download.
  • If you have children, have fun with a fruits and vegetables contest. Give prizes for the greatest number of servings of fruits and vegetables in a day’s or week’s time; the greatest variety of plants consumed; the bravest attempt to try something new.
  • Host a meal to highlight the hospitality you receive from the earth. Choose foods in season.
    This week, boycott TV or watch less of it. Watching TV gives food companies access to your mind and makes you vulnerable to the power of suggestion. At minimum, mute the commercials.
  • Switch to fair trade coffee and tea. Visit www.justcoffee.org for more information.
    Get acquainted with your own hunger. When you feel hungry for a snack, wait and live with your hunger for an hour or two.
  • Before you eat and while you are eating, ask yourself, “Am I hungry for this or am I just eating?” Our bodies know what we need and don’t need if we learn to listen to them.
  • Comparison shop to count the cost of switching to organic foods. What compromises or lifestyle changes would you need to make to buy organic, naturaly or locally grown foods? To consistently buy one food locally?
  • Shop at the Community Food Bank or Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market this week and experiment with one new fruit or vegetable. Offbeat local foods and heirloom varieties you can’t find in a grocery store are frequently offered.
  • Educate yourself about the benefits of eating a diet that includes lots of fresh produce and whole grains.

WHERE OUR FOOD COMES FROM:

  • Learn more about a farmer, store, or group with a vision for environmentally friendly food. Commit to buying their food or supporting their work.
  • Search in your community for farmers’ markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farmers, and organizations working to build a healthy, local food economy. You can also visit www.localharvest.org to search for these and other local food resources.
  • Make a list of all the settings where you consume food. Which ones encourage you to eat well? Which ones discourage you? Many unnecessary calories are munched while we are alone—for example, at a computer or TV, or in the car. This week, make eating a social experience as often as possible.
  • Use your food-buying power wisely.
  • Plan your life to make as few trips to the grocery store as possible. Market research has shown that the more time you spend in a store, the more unnecessary food you buy.
  • international trade rules that affect agricultural products can threaten the food security of people and entire nations. Learn how just trade can help diminish hunger and poverty. Great places to begin are the
  • Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance www.e-alliance.ch and the US Interfaith Trade Justice Campaign www.tradejusticeusa.org
  • Ask your grocery store manager or the owner of your favorite restaurant about their food sources. Businesses will sell what customers ask for.
  • Buy a CSA or food co-op membership for a friend’s birthday or Christmas present.
  • Seek out foods that are processed locally.
  • Join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, a food co-op, or start a food buying club with friends and neighbors. Spend $10/week on locally produced foods.
  • Buy as much of your food as you can from a farmer whose face you can see, and whose farm you can visit.
  • Learn your local food history! Find a food that is celebrated as being originally from or best grown/produced in your part of the country.
  • Trace your food sources as far back as you can.
  • Start a home garden to grow some of your own fruits and vegetables and experience the wonder of growing life.
  • Buy only meat that you know has been produced humanely and sustainably.
  • Participate in the production of your food as much as you can.
  • Think about what is in season and buy foods grown in your area.
  • Learn how to freeze, can and store seasonal fruits and vegetables produced in your area.
  • Learn how to cook using whole or less-processed food to save on packaging, to be healthy, and to become more self-reliant.

HOW WE EAT:

  • For a week, set an extra place at your table every time you eat and be open to any unexpected guest who may drop in and fill the chair.
  • Dicsuss how to bring meaning and thankfulness to your table.
  • Take time to tell stories that give you hope during a shared meal.
  • Prepare a symbol of what it means to eat thankfully, and well, to put up in your home as an antidote to the many ads you see each day selling junk food.
  • Evaluate the feasting traditions in your family. What meanings are carried in your special meals? Are there memories you long to pass on which could be expressed with food? Do you have a “harvest” feast of any sort? Start a new tradition.
  • Band together with another household or two to offer hospitality to a group or person you might be reluctant to do alone.
  • Walk a mile in someone else’s diet. Interview a person in your congregation who is diabetic or requires a special diet for some reason. How does he or she cope with the way your congregation shares food? What would a feast that this person could eat look like?
  • Plan a menu that allows you to be spontaneous with your hospitality. Keep the necessary ingredients always in stock or prepare a quantity of a food that can be frozen.
  • Invite someone from a different race or social class to eat a meal with you and notice what issues come up for you as you attempt to bridge dividing lines.
  • Create a new food memory for a child.
  • Invite a friend over to share a meal.
  • Take turns making dinners with or for another family, couple, or individual once a week.
  • Be thankful for your food and reflect on the goodness of creation before eating any food.