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Press Release: Churches take action for food justice

16. October 2012

    Churches and Christian organizations around the world are calling for policies and practices to tackle global hunger and malnutrition using economically and environmentally sustainable practices that help the most vulnerable. The fourth annual Churches’ Week of Action on Food, promoted by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), runs from 14-21 October, and encompasses the International Day for Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day, (16 October) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17).


    Actions range from sermon and worship themes focusing on food justice to advocacy with governments and multilateral organizations at the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security starting today in Rome.


    Examples of actions nationally and regionally include:

    • West African religious leaders are gathering in Lomé, Togo, for meetings with national and regional political leaders in addition to a one-day symposium on food and climate change. At these events organized by the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West africa, religious leaders are calling for investment in small-scale agroecological farming and the building of food reserves.
    • The Commission on Justice, Peace and Creation and Urban Rural Mission of the National Council of Churches in India are launching today a national campaign on “Food Justice for Life” to call for just production, just consumption and just distribution of food along with practicing and promoting socially and environmentally sustainable agriculture.
    • The Presbyterian Church (USA) is highlighting key advocacy actions for solidarity with farmworkers, protection for family farmers in the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, and a raise in the tipped minimum wage of $2.13 for restaurant workers, in addition to protesting US policies promoting corn ethanol which divert food for fuel. These and many more actions across the US are highlighted at: www.usfoodsovereigntyalliance.org/world-food-week-of-action-2012
    • Church World Service and member organizations of the Regional Program for Food Security and Sovereignty (PRESSAN, El Programa Regional para la Seguridad y Soberanía Alimentaria) are holding a regional food security forum on 16 October in Guatemala City. It will highlight development strategies that are helping some of the poorest families in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua produce their own sustainable solutions to the region’s chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.
    • Canadian Foodgrains Bank is promoting worship and action through its network, as well as a guided tour and panel discussion of the Just Food Art Exhibit: The Right to Food from a Faith Perspective. The exhibit aims to inform and motivate communities about the injustice that abundant food is only available for some.
    • Canadian Lutheran World Relief is promoting a new online game, Meal or No Meal, to raise awareness about hunger among youth.
    • The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is starting the week with an ecumenical liturgy and supporting churches’ inclusion of the theme in Bible studies, sermons, Sunday school lessons, field trips to food-producing communities and other forums. The NCCP supports efforts of communities towards sustainable agriculture and fights threats to food security such as conversion of agricultural land to bio-fuel crops or real estate development, land grabbing, mining operations that pollute the land, and agricultural practices and systems that leave farmers with no food or profit.
    • The Christian Council of Nigeria is organizing an ecumenical service, while member churches are focusing on food in their sermons and teachings through the week.
    • The Finnish Evangelical Mission has been organizing a series of events in and around Helsinki in cooperation with the Economic Justice Network of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, including raising the issues of food, trade and justice at a mission conference for youth.

    New research and policy papers have been released by several organizations:

    • The international alliance of Catholic development agencies, CIDSE, has released the report “Agriculture: from Problem to Solution: Achieving the Right to Food in a Climate-Constrained World” which argues that more sustainable food systems which operate at a smaller scale are needed to feed the world in the face of a changing and erratic climate.
    • A Church of Sweden report, “Cash in the hand” emphasizes the need for a rights based social protection as a method of eradicating poverty and hunger.
    • The EAA’s report, “Nourishing the World: Scaling up Agroecology” calls for increased investment in sustainable agricultural practices that support smallscale farmers and local communities as well as benefit the environment and natural resource base.


    At the meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), being held 15-20 October in Rome, EAA members are uniting in their demands that CFS stakeholders take immediate and bold action to address the climate change impacts on food security by supporting a shift towards a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system that prioritizes small-scale food food producers.


    These and many other actions highlight the injustices of the current food system. Globally, enough food is produced for 10 billion people, the estimated population in 2050, but one in eight people around the world – the vast majority in developing countries – remain chronically undernourished. Yet almost double that number – 1.4 billion – are suffering from obesity, overweight and related non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In addition, globally an estimated one-third of all food produced is wasted.


    In a speech on 10 October in New York at the Food Sovereignty Prize ceremony, Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, highlighted one aspect of this injustice. “The European Union uses 614 million hectares (of land) annually to feed itself… 50 percent of this land that is used to satisfy the needs of the E.U. is land that is outside the Union, land in developing countries,” he said. “Food does not go where the need is, it goes where the money is today.”


    “Through this week of action, concerned Christians and many partners around the world are demanding transformation – transformation of how we produce, consume and distribute food so that we can achieve zero hunger, and ensure vibrant communities and a sustainable environment,” states Peter Prove, EAA Executive Director. “Such a transformation is practical and achievable when we combine the calling of our faith with a political vision.”


    Background for editors

    The most recent statistics on hunger come from the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States, International Fund for Agricultural Development and World Food Programme: www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/161819/icode/


    Churches’ Week of Action on Food information and resources: www.e-alliance.ch/en/s/food/2012-churches-week-of-action-on-food/


    For more information contact Sara Speicher, sspeicher@e-alliance.ch, +44 7821 860 723 (mobile).

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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