The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind. Food is the moral right of all who are born into this world.” -Norman Borlaug
Today’s convergence of factors lead to sobering thoughts – of hungry children plodding through the snow with no breakfast, of the calls for acts of charity at this penitential season, and of concern to meet goal for Minnesota FoodShare Month, highlighted by a call to action issued by Governor Dayton and a project of the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches.
Minnesotans may have read or heard that food shelves throughout the state are more than ever in need of both financial and food support. Barrels are everywhere through Minnesota communities to make it easy for generous folk to drop off non-perishable goods. Food and financial drives are going full speed in houses of worship, the workplace, nonprofits and the community at large.
The good news is that people are taking a closer look at why we have persistent hunger in our communities – why children go to bed hungry, why seniors have to decide between meds and food, why, in spite of the adage, waste and want exist side by side. Conversations are going beyond emergency needs to the deeper questions such as What has led us from crisis to benign acceptance of a societal travesty? How do we in a farm state balance production and consumption? Why do higher employment rates and food shelf statistics not compute? Is the right to food a human right?
The media are contributing to the public discourse in positive ways. A Place at the Table, is drawing audiences and media coverage. Anna Lappe’s presentation, sponsored by Minnesota FoodShare and the Westminster Town Hall Forum, drew a SRO audience and has been requested by a barrage of MPR listeners. Local media have given time to features on hunger-related issues. The Daily Planet recently ran the Minnesota FoodShare video for their broad audience. And people of faith are heeding the words of their leaders in places of worship of every denomination, including a local adoption of Mazon, a nation-wide Jewish response to hunger.
Meanwhile, at the State Capitol, legislators will have a chance to listen to the public and take action on the immediate needs. Though the imperative to fill the shelves with more and better food is a priority, it’s time to take a longer view of the underlying issues…. If not now, when?