During the season of Lent, a small group met weekly to discuss the ways in which our spirituality and relationship to food are intertwined with one another. Using the “Just Eating?” curriculum of the Presbyterian Hunger Program of PC(USA), we looked at five different areas of food, faith, and justice: The connection between food and sacrament; how food nurtures our bodies; the root causes of global hunger and our response as people of faith; the environmental impact of food production and consumption; and how we can build community through sharing meals and food with one another.
As a Hunger Action Congregation, our church is already responding in a number of different ways to the areas named above. We were a pilot host church for the Boston-area Food Justice Young Adult Volunteer program, hosting a YAV for the first three years of the program here in our Presbytery. We host Farmer Dave’s CSA pickup nearly year-round (soon to include winter shares as well in 2020!); we actively support the Burlington Food Pantry through donations and volunteering; we have a strong commitment to the annual Walk for Hunger of more than 30 years of participation; and some of us help tend the Community Garden in Burlington as well. Our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing also help support the Presbyterian Hunger Fund, which gives grants to programs combating hunger here in the United States, as well as globally. I’m sure there are other ways we are actively involved in combating local and global hunger or working towards food justice that I have missed.
We also talked about ways our individual choices can have an impact on not only our own health and well-being, but on our spiritual practices; and by extension, on the wider community as well. As I continue my own journey toward better health, inside and out, I encourage you to also consider making small changes in your own daily life that will have a ripple effect in contributing toward positive change in the world around you. Small choices add up to big differences in the long run. Can you reduce your use of single-use plastic by using mesh produce bags and reusable shopping bags? Have you thought about composting your left-over food waste, or finding a local service that might be happy to receive it and turn it into wonderful fertilizer? Do you grow your own vegetables, and share the excess with your neighbors?
Those are just a few things to get you thinking along the lines of what we have been discussing in our study. We concluded our time together last night, with a wonderful potluck of simply prepared foods, that were both filling and delicious. We all agreed that eating together with our church family is one of our favorite ways of sharing time together, and I look forward to more opportunities to share our faith at the table with all of you.
As Mother Teresa is credited with saying: “We can do no great things; only small things, with great love.”