Churches around the world will be observing Churches' Week of Action on Food from 11-17 October as hunger is a stark reality for 26.4 percent of the world’s population. The theme of the World Food Day, which falls on 16 October this year, is “Grow, Nourish, Sustain Together.”
The World Council of Churches (WCC) is providing resources, including online prayer services and a series of podcasts involving farmers and faith communities from different regions of the world. The voices of youth and people living with disabilities will be heard in the context of achieving food sovereignty.
Two billion people are experiencing moderate or severe levels of food insecurity.
But ten months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 35 million cases reported worldwide, and more than 1.03 million lives lost due to the disease, access to food and livelihoods for people around the world has become increasingly difficult.
The number of people facing acute food insecurity is expected to nearly double to 265 million in 2020, from 135 million in 2019. The pandemic is impacting 60% of the world's workforce—2 billion workers—who are in informal employment. Eighty percent of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, where most do not have access to a social safety net.
It is also estimated that an additional 140 million people will be thrown into living in extreme poverty on less than US$1.90 per day in 2020.
“If there is no work—there is no food,” said Celine Osukwu, member of the International Reference Group of WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network, EDAN. “People of faith, deeply rooted in their communities, are responding heroically to this crisis.”
Osukwu recalled the episode of Jesus feeding the multitude, (Matthew 14:13-21). “We have no excuses but to respond to this crisis together, sharing what we have, in faith, to ensure that all are fed, leaving nobody behind, and with no food being wasted,” she said.
During the week, churches will be finding ways to encourage people to “get back to the basics” and promote agro-ecological food production that is local, diverse and has a minimal negative impact on the earth and people.
Dr Manoj Kurian, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance said “Let us ensure that small farmers and indigenous peoples have access to seeds, land, water, resources and markets. Let us share resources in solidarity and care for each other, ensuring that all people are entitled to adequate, affordable and nutritious food.”