At God’s Table: Food Justice for a Healthy World

Photo (c) by Linda Panetta. Used with permission. Optical Realities - http://www.opticalrealities.org

God’s loving abundance is highlighted throughout the entire biblical story. This is especially true with food. Whether it is God feeding the Israelites with manna in the desert (Exodus 16) or Jesus’ call to invite all to the Great Banquet (Luke 14:12-24) there is enough to eat at God’s Table. As inheritors of this tradition, the Christian community is called to ask, “What has gone so wrong?”

Some of us live in communities where grocery stores abound, where we can find aisles of colorfully packaged food, coolers stacked with gleaming meats, walls of vegetables, and piles of perfect fruit. Behind the flawless tomatoes and shining peppers is a less bright reality. What are the true costs of this apparent plenty?

Meanwhile, only a few miles away, others of us may live in a food desert, where families are simply unable to purchase affordable, healthy food. And across the globe, children are dying of starvation and being stunted by malnutrition.

Can Christians support a system of food production and consumption that turns crops into fuel, where more than a third of all food goes to waste, and nearly one billion people go hungry? Even in the United States, an agricultural powerhouse, millions are food insecure or hungry, and the kind of food many of us eat is making us sick.

Tragically, our national and global food systems have lost focus on the human dimension. Food is now seen as one more commodity, just another product to own and speculate on. We have forgotten God’s mandate for human beings to serve as stewards of a just food system in which all can meet their daily needs (Exodus 16:16-18).

What are the costs to the environment, to farm and food chain workers, and to the producers themselves? What are the long-term effects of corporate agribusiness, over-reliance on chemical inputs, genetically modified single crop farms, misplaced subsidies in the U.S. Farm Bill, and massive food exports into fragile farming communities? How do we respond when human rights advocates are killed for trying to stop land-grabbing?

In the face of such challenges, we return to the invitation from Jesus to set a banquet table where all are invited (Luke 14:12-24).  This will mean a transformed food and agricultural system with justice and ecological sustainability – right relationship among “neighbors” and with all God’s creation – as the core ingredients, the menu, for the banquet.

EAD 2013 follows in the wake of national elections, a new Congress, a lingering Farm Bill debate, and devastating droughts and floods, all with lasting consequences for our society and world. April 5-8, 2013 will be a critical time to raise faith voices in support of ending hunger, improving nutrition, creating more just and sustainable food systems and protecting God’s creation – and advocating for a “Faithful Federal Budget.”

During Ecumenical Advocacy Days, participants will share information and learn about these important issues. Most importantly, as part of EAD 2013, hundreds of Christians will go to Capitol Hill and advocate with members of Congress for policies that ensure sufficient and nutritious food for all, preserve ecological sustainability, protect children and adults from exploitative labor practices, and strengthen rather than destroy small-scale farmers and the rural economy. We will break-down myths such as the one that says farmers cannot grow enough food with ecologically sustainable means. And we will be challenged to become sustainable consumers of healthy, fair food.

Come to EAD 2013 and help build a world in which every person, in present and future generations, has a place “At God’s Table.” Join the ranks of nearly ten-thousand Christian advocates who over the past eleven years have made a faithful public witness on Capitol Hill!

EAD 2013 Biblical Texts

Exodus 16: 16-18 (NRSV)
“This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’” The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.”

Luke 14: 12-24 (NRSV)
“He said also to the one who had invited him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

Photo (c) Linda Panetta. Used with permission. For information or reproductions visit Optical Realities.

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