Food for Thought…
“Eternal God, you crown the year with your goodness and you give us the fruits of the earth in their season: grant that we may use them to your glory, for the relief of those in need and for our own well being.” These words are from the Collect which will be said during the Harvest Festival services in our benefice. As I write, “Barclay” is devouring some deli sausages with tripe and venison to satisfy his never diminishing canine appetite. I should stress they are pet treats from a local supermarket, not something stolen from a surface in my kitchen! For humans, and all living creatures, food and drink are not only essential for health and wellbeing, but enjoyment; and, central to hospitality and fellowship.
Sadly, however, both globally, and closer to home, far too many go hungry and thirsty whilst mountains of food are left to perish, or not put to good use after being harvested. In the UK, thousands of tonnes of food are wasted every day. A new “app” (iPhone/computer application) aims to reduce this wastage, allowing restaurants to sell unused food for a reduced price to help feed people on a budget. "Too Good to Go", links restaurants that would normally throw away food with people who want to eat a well-balanced meal on a shoestring. The app has attracted 40 000+ users since it was launched in June. Co-founders, 25 year olds Jamie Crummie and Chris Wilson, say the app is as much a community project as it is a way to offer users a bargain. They state, "We can all agree that when we have 600, 000 tonnes of food being wasted by restaurants across the UK, with a million people on emergency food parcels, it makes no sense. It feels like the biggest, most illogical problem we have in the world, and that's what fuelled the idea."
The "Too Good to Go" app is just one example of initiatives to help and support those who often experience the pangs of hunger. As a benefice we support the Waterside Food Bank organised by the Trussell Trust. It serves communities from Eling to Calshot, and from East Boldre to Southampton Water. Amazingly, and worryingly, in 2015 it helped 1909 people, including 851 children, in crisis, by giving 3-day emergency supplies which comprised 18 377 kg of food. Based in Blackfield, churches work together to provide essential foods and also reasonably priced second hand clothing, and a vital Debt Advice Counselling service. Most certainly food for thought on our own doorsteps!
Further afield many of us who have enjoyed the coverage of the Rio Olympics may be unaware of the abject poverty which grips many communities in Latin America. Fleeting reference to densely populated favela settlements in Brazil is sadly only the tip of the iceberg. Statistics published by World Vision suggest that an incredible 62 million live in extreme poverty, with many working very long shifts for a mere $1 a day. Persistent droughts, economic ineptness and corruption all contribute to unimaginable hunger and thirst. Similarly on the other side of the Pacific, in our linked diocese of Myanmar, 18% of child deaths result from lack of access to safe drinking water or sanitation: tragic statistics which Water Aid is addressing this year. Thankfully many new initiatives, locally and globally, offer hope for the future. Hunger and thirst is unacceptable: if food waste is addressed and we learn to share the world's food resources, progress can happen.
I look forward to seeing you at one of our Harvest services and meals.