World Food Week of Action

Food Week of Action – Sunday Oct. 11 through Sunday Oct. 18 – includes World Food Day (October 16) as well as the International Day for Rural Women (October 15) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17).

Scroll down for worship resources.

The current global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted food systems around the world. Food environments are where people meet the food system. Around the world people’s food environments are rapidly changing in both their external dimensions – food availability, prices, vendors- as well as personal dimensions – geographical access, affordability, convenience and desirability. These rapid food environment changes are influencing the consumers’ dietary practices and can lead to a deterioration in both individual, and country level,nutritional and health status. (UNSCN)

The World Council of Churches-Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA), the Churches’ Week of Action on Food invites the global ecumenical movement and organisations, community-based organisations and faith-based organisations to act collectively for food-justice.

“We envision a world where everyone has enough affordable, healthy and culturally appropriate food where no one is hungry, and where all who work in the food chain are fairly compensated, respected and celebrated!”

People worldwide are taking back their food systems – fighting for their land and waterways, reclaiming vacant lots, teaching others how to grow food, and developing local distribution systems – while simultaneously creating jobs, providing fresh food, preserving the environment, building rural-urban connections, advocating for just policies, and revitalizing their communities. Local control of seeds – by farmers, gardeners and seed keeping groups – is crucial for food security and food sovereignty.

“In a world that produces enough and more food for all, but where one third of it is wasted and 795 million people around the globe go to sleep hungry, we pray for the strength to stand with the oppressed and overcome greed and injustice”.
(Dr Fidèle Fifamè Houssou-Gandonou from the Fellowship of Council of Churches in West Africa, a participating organisation of the World Council of Churches – Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, WCC-EAA)

“We pray and hope that churches can help people live responsibly and be the catalyst for change in our society”
(Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC-EAA and the Food for Life Campaign)

Signs of the times
• Hunger amongst plenty: In spite of the fact that the world produces enough and more food for all, one in nine people in the world today (795 million) are undernourished and go to sleep hungry. Poor nutrition causes 45 percent of deaths in children under five years of age – 3.1 million children each year. Lack of nutrition causes one in four of the world’s children to suffer stunted growth, causing impaired brain development, lower IQ, weakened immune systems and greater risk of serious diseases like diabetes and cancer later in life.
• Extreme global inequality and injustice: 82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 went to the richest one percent of the global population, while the 3.7 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity got nothing. Trade and market distortions contribute to making the wealthy few richer, and the dispossessed poorer.
• Conflict and hunger: Conflict continues to be the main driver of acute food insecurity in 18 countries — 15 of them in Africa or the Middle East. It is the primary reason for most of the world’s cases of acute food insecurity, accounting for 60 percent of the global total, or 74 million people.
• Nexus between land, water, food, the environment and climate change: Climate change affects the availability of water and food security.  At the same time, industrial agriculture and factory animal farms, the unsustainable exploitation of water and land resources, and unbridled consumerist lifestyles, all contribute to climate change. The choking of indigenous communities, smallholder farmers, and artisanal fisher folk; unbridled commercial farming and fishing; deforestation – with the Earth losing 18.7 million acres of forests per year; destructive land and sea mining, all contribute to the degradation of the environment and bringing about water shortages, threatening food sovereignty and endangering biodiversity. Agriculture runoffs of fertilizer and other agrochemicals that load freshwater supplies with nutrients lead to the growth of pathogens and choking algae blooms. 80 percent of industrial and municipal wastewater is discharged without treatment. 70% of the total human use of scare water resources goes into agriculture. Unfortunately, it is estimated that one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. Climate disasters — mainly drought — were also major triggers of food crises in 23 countries, two-thirds of them in Africa, and were responsible for pushing some 39 million people into acute food insecurity.

Worrying food shortages compel faith action
WCC press release, 19 October 2018 by Fredrick Nzwili
As churches worldwide focus on the “Action Week for Food” in October, increasing numbers of people going hungry due to violent conflicts, failed harvests and rising food costs are compelling faith-based organizations to offer urgent intervention.
From South Sudan to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Somalia, millions of people are facing serious food shortages, as violence continues to deny them access to their farms. That has made it impossible for communities to cultivate the farms to produce food or even continue with activities that support livelihoods.
While the denominations continued to stress for food as a God given right, relentless violence in South Sudan had pushed 6.1 million citizens into extreme hunger, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nation (FAO) reported towards the end of September.
“The people can only grow some little food in compounds around their homes. It is still too dangerous for them to venture into their farms further away. Unable to produce food, people have to rely on relief food,” said Rev. James Oyet Latansio, the general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches in a recent interview.
The number of men, women and children are going without food in the DRC have reached 15 million, a jump from 7.7 million last year, according to a government, World Food Programme ( WFP) and FAO report.
“We are witnessing emergency levels of hunger and malnutrition in every town and village where we respond,” said Ulrika Blom, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in DR Congo in a statement on 16 October. “The new figures on food insecurity in DR Congo are incredibly alarming.”
Although Somalia had noted improvement in its food security in spite of the war, an estimated 1.5 million people are expected to be in a crisis until the end of this year, according to the FEWS-NET, an early warning system network.
About a year ago, a severe drought gripped Eastern Africa, with a famine being declared in South Sudan. Then, over 20 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia were in need of urgent food assistance.
Apart from conflicts, alternate floods and droughts associated with climate change have been causing food shortages in parts of the region. In Kenya, floods from early this year’s heavy rains washed away farms and crops, leaving the hundreds of people needing food aid.
“The damaged farms in the coastal region have not been repaired and the people are still relying on relief food. Some of the displaced people are trying to go back to their homes, but there are no proper homes or farms to return to. Their food situation is likely to continue being unstable, unless there are urgent interventions,” said retired Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa, who is now involved in community work.
While experts have suggested intensification of agriculture as the solution to the region’s recurrent food crisis, local farmers say they need better seeds, better fertilisers, and access to land and water so that they can produce enough to beat the challenge.

The Presbyterian Mission has some resources here including this 2014 liturgy.

Call to worship
Come, let us worship God, who gifted us with Life and food to sustain life.
We praise God for the wondrous creation.
Come, let us follow Lord Jesus Christ, who inspires us to hunger and thirst for Justice and Righteousness.
We give glory to God, who restores the weak and the hungry.
Come let us move with the Holy Spirit, striving to establish food justice.
We praise God for the abundant life that is assured to all.
(Source: World Council of Churches)

Opening Prayer
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)
God visits the earth and waters it,
Greatly enriching the earth
…. softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
God provides the people with grain.
(Psalm 65:9-10 adapted)
God grants peace within your borders;
God fills you with the finest of wheat. (Psalm 147:14)
The Lord watches over the strangers;
God upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked, God brings to ruin. (Psalm 146:9)
O give thanks to the Lord, for God is good;
God’s steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 118:1)
O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill? (Psalm 15:1)
(Source: World Council of Churches)

Readings from the Hebrew Bible– Isaiah 55:1
Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Prayers of Confession and renewal
Reader 1: O Lord, we are part of the society that tramples on the poor,
Stealing their grains, seeds and indigenous knowledge,
Stealing their lands, water bodies, farms and resources.
Their livelihood and the sweat of their brow.
Forgive us Lord, help us to stand with the oppressed and overcome greed and injustice.
Reader 2: O Lord, we are part of the society that refuses to acknowledge that one in nine people in the world today are hungry and impoverished, in the midst of wealth and plenty.
Forgive us Lord for our insensitivity and help us to be receptive and responsive to the needs of others. Enable us to share our resources and efforts with those who are hungry and in need.
Reader 3: We are part of the society that tolerates and contributes to conflicts and insecurity. Situations that bring hunger and untold suffering to millions of vulnerable children, girls, women, and men who are experiencing violations of their rights and face violence daily.
Forgive us Lord for our complicity and our inaction. Help us to be persistent in striving for peace and justice and to end violence.
Reader 4: We are part of the society that wastes a third of all food produced. A society that is increasingly consumerist, wasteful and careless, polluting and destroying the environment and contributing to climate change.
Forgive us Lord for our wastefulness, greed and lack of caring for the environment. Help us to live responsibly and be the catalyst for change in our society.
(Source: World Council of Churches)

Prayers for Others
In the towering cliffs we see your majesty, and on quiet lakes we experience your peace. Revive, O Lord, the lands and fields, the water and air. May the resources we find in it be used for your glory and not for the enrichment of a few.
God, Creator of the land, hear our prayer.
We ask for your blessing upon the farmers of the world, for water and sun, for fertile soil and good health. May they have freedom to till the land for the feeding of their families and their communities. Guide their tending to respect what you have provided for the flourishing of all life.
God, Creator of the first garden, hear our prayer.
God, our provider, pour out your gifts on the communities of the world. May they find harmony in relationship and be sustained by the bounty you have given. Help all communities rely upon each other, so that the needs of all will be met, and hope might be found even in the midst of tragedy. Let them flourish and guide their generosity, that their hospitality might reflect your own.
God, Creator of community, hear our prayer.
May the hand of your justice be made known in our food system. Let the benefits be received by all who partic- ipate. Let those who labor, be paid. Let those who grow food, not be made needy. May nourishment reach the hungry, and even the crumbs find mouths to be fed.
God, Creator of justice, hear our prayer.
Bless, to us, food that is wholesome and good. May our tables be filled with the fruits of our local fields. Let all that we eat give life to those who dine, give strength to our bodies, and energy for the work of your justice, peace, and love.
God, Creator of all that there is, hear our prayer. Lord’s Prayer in our many languages.
(Source: Presbyterian Mission, 2014 liturgy)

Prayer: Our bread
Reader 1:Give us, God of the earth and of the wheat fields,
Our daily food.
That food that does not belong to us,
that is yours and given generously.
Food to share,
Food that is blessed,
Satiating each person.
Satisfying hunger and solitude,
Without hoarding or hiding.

Reader 2: Do not give us just the food,
Give us also the dignity that we are denied.
To overcome
Walls and war,
Greed and ambition,
Privatisation of public knowledge and resources.
They exclude, marginalize,
Condemn, expel, and kill.

Reader 1: Give us safe spaces where we can meet,
To celebrate our human diversities.
Give us the ability to embrace,
With compassion and the willingness to share,
With outstretched hands, and sensitive hearts,
Committed to the fullness of life.

Reader 2: Give us words that encourage,
Actions that are inclusive and just,
Gestures that give hope and instil courage.
With songs that inspire us each day,
With tenderness and sustenance.
Our glasses overflowing
With Justice, Peace and Equity.
(Source: Gerardo Oberman, Argentina. Translated and adapted by Greta Nania Montoya Ortega, World Council of Churches))

Responsive prayer
Reader 1: Lord help us to recognize you in the hungry, thirsty and vulnerable amongst us;
Lord help us to worship you by serving the needy.

Reader 2: Lord help us to strive for Justice and Peace;
Lord help us to resolve conflicts and help people to live safe and fulfilling lives.

Reader 3: Lord help us to share each other’s burdens;
Lord help us to unite to face our common struggles to overcome hunger and injustice.

Reader 4: Lord help us to strive for the rights of small farmers and fisher folk;
Lord together, help us to protect and promote the biodiversity of our world and the richness of indigenous wisdom.

Reader 5: Lord help us to live responsibly and tread gently on this earth;
Lord together, help us to reduce food waste, irresponsible consumption, promote healthy and active life styles and diets and increase the use of renewable energy, to preserve and protect the environment.
(Source: World Council of Churches)

An adaptation of the Lord’s prayer
Leader: Let us pray together, an adaptation of our Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
Whenever we see nature and everything around us,
We remember your name.
May your reign come to us,
The whole world a safe space, where all are invited.
In our lives’, journey today,
May your will be done, as in heaven.
Give us our daily sustenance, the food of life,
And may it be shared fairly, so that everyone has enough to eat and drink.
Forgive us, if we forget those who have less and suffer injustice.
Help us to keep on striving for Justice and Peace,
In our quest for a world where there is no inequality,
Where no one lacks anything.
Do not let us fall into the temptation of wanting more than what we need,
Deliver us from evil, from being self-centered and acquisitive.
For yours is the Kingdom,
The manna, the food of life.
For you are our sustenance for the journey,
On the road where there is room for all,
For ever and ever. Amen.
(Source: World Council of Churches)

May we always be hungry for righteousness;
May we overcome injustices that bring about vulnerability!
May we always be thirsty for peace;
May we overcome insecurity, suffering and displacement!
May we always yearn to care for each other and the environment;
May we share each other’s burden;
May our prayers lead to action and transformation!
(Source: World Council of Churches)

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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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