JUSTeach Newsletter

October 2004

social justice education

World Food Day on October 16th :

Can We Make “A Place at the Table” for Everyone?

The 24th World Food Day will be observed throughout the world on the anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), October 16, 1945. World Food Day aims to heighten public understanding of food insecurity (hunger) and to create solidarity in the struggle to make sure that everyone has enough to eat every day.  World Food Day reminds us that the world food system does not yet serve all people adequately, and that 800 million men, women and children go to bed each night hungry and malnourished.

            For Catholics, World Food Day can be an opportunity to help our students understand the various causes of hunger and possible responses … both across the world and in our midst.  Inspiration comes from the U.S. Bishops’ 2003 statement, A Place at the Table:  “In our everyday lives … we can raise our children with an ethic of service and a passion for justice ….We can also live more simply so that there might be enough at the table for all.”  Many helpful lesson plans and resources available are found at the websites of Catholic Relief Services, international Catholic organizations, and interfaith and secular anti-hunger groups.   

            For younger students, educational coloring pages and word puzzles can be found at the following websites:  www.maryknoll.org/EDUCA/CORNER/guatemala/guatcolorbook1.htm, www.wrcanada.org/fgbank/download/foodforall.pdf (115 pages in all!), www.catholicrelief.org/images/kids/2001coloringethiopia.pdf. More in-depth activities include personal stories about hunger from children in four countries, and a short skit and a puppet play (Pedro’s gift), at the “wrcanada” (World Relief Canada) website given above.  Another, entitled “Giving Food to Others,” helps children understand the importance and workings of local food pantries, and is found at www.hungernomore.org/childrens_activities/2002%20edition/activity_2.pdf

            For older students, word puzzles are printable from the “World Relief Canada” website. A couple of more reflective activities help these students understand both some causes of hunger, and concrete steps they can take to help relieve it – at home or abroad.  The first is titled “Seven Cents a Day” and is found at www.hungernomore.org/childrens_activities/2003%20edition/activity%202.pdf, and the second, “Why are Some People Hungry?” is at www.cafod.org.uk/var/storage/original/application/phpfuvF5.pdf.  CAFOD is the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development in the United Kingdom, corresponding to our Catholic Relief Services here.   

            An added note and “pitch” on a way to help parishioners of all ages to better understand and respond to hunger both locally and globally.  The new STEP: Steps Toward Eliminating Poverty program of the Joliet Diocese builds on the model of the CROP Walk and adds the dimensions of prayer, education and advocacy/justice to raise both funds and awareness re: the causes of hunger and related issues of poverty for its participants (who are then more than just “walkers”).  Seven DOJ parishes have already joined in STEP events this Fall, and others are planning Spring ’05 events in Lisle and possibly Wheaton and Elmhurst.  What about your parish?  Contact us in the Peace and Justice Office to learn how your church can “get into STEP!”   Call 815-834-4028, or e-mail to peace@dioceseofjoliet.org.