Bless those who toil to bring food to our table,
May they be healthy, productive, and themselves have enough food to eat.
Bless the farmers, farm laborers, the merchants, and those who transport food,
May they be sustained in their efforts and sustain the earth as they labor.
Bless those who work cooperatively.
May we all celebrate Your Spirit in shared work, mutual assistance, and
collaborative economic efforts that can bring forth abundance, joy and hope
everywhere, including right where we live.
Bless the seeds, soil, fertilizer, air and water that enable the food to grow.
May we protect and preserve that which sustains us for generations to come.
Bless our relationship with You and with each other that nourishes our bodies and
- A “Table Grace” Prayer from Church World Service’s World Food Day Resources
On this World Food Day, I am thinking about many prayers.
I am remembering the words of a farmer friend of mine, who--at the height of the drought that struck the U.S. this summer, expressed a wish as he compared the plight of many of his friends that summer to the issue of hunger worldwide.
“I would like to hear the prayer of an African farmer.”
For my friend, such a wish is itself a prayer. It is a prayer that serves as a reminder that our wishes, our hopes, our fears and concerns do not change that much, no matter our culture or context. In terms of More and more, as agriculture, food markets, and economies in the developed and developing world demonstrate, the question of worldwide hunger is a question of intertwined hope and interdependence. From famine-ravaged areas in East Africa to food deserts in North American cities and rural areas, hunger is an issue that affects all of our communities.
According to the new UN hunger report released on October 9, 2012, nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 (SOFI), jointly published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), presents comprehensive estimates of chronic undernourishment based on data from the last two decades. The facts are sobering.
The vast majority of the hungry, 852 million people, live in developing countries - around 15 percent of their population - while 16 million people are undernourished in developed countries.
It is incredible that one in eight people around the world remain chronically undernourished despite the fact that worldwide, enough food is produced to feed the estimated global population of 2012. Yet, while one out of eight persons remains undernourished, 1.4 Billion suffer from obesity, are overweight, and have developed related non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. In addition, globally an estimated one-third of all food produced is wasted.
But there is good news. The global number of hungry people declined between 1990-92 and 2010-12 from 18.6 percent to 12.5 percent of the world's population, and from 23.2 percent to 14.9 percent in developing countries.
The hunger-related target of the Millennium Development Goals is within reach if adequate, appropriate actions are taken. However, vigilance is critical. While the number of hungry declined more sharply between 1990 and 2007 than previously believed, since 2007-2008, global progress in reducing hunger has slowed and leveled off.
But what can I do? It’s a question that quickly comes to mind.
World hunger might seem like a huge issue, but there are things we can all do.
Like my farmer friend, you can pray. Like my farmer friend, you can tell the story of a world of abundance affected by hunger. Our Partners at Church World Service have great resources, from prayers and worship resources to educational tools that help us share in our common struggle for food security and food justice. Finally, like my farmer friend, you can partner with Week of Compassion to support our work in sustainable development, emergency relief, and food security. Such work sustains those in critical situations—helping them get adequate nutrition in the middle of desperate circumstances. It also helps sustain those learning new agricultural and entrepreneurial skills, helping them address issues of chronic poverty and hunger.
This work to end hunger is a prayer we say together—not only with words, but with our actions and our resources. What could be more sacred, after all, than sharing? What could be more holy than ensuring that all who are invited to a shared table of humanity have enough?
May we, like my friend, always long to hear the prayers of others. May we, like him, always strive to say our prayers with our very lives.
This Week's Responses
Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Chicago, emergency refugee assistance
Development and Long-Term Recovery
Egypt, integrated development and conflict resolution
Syria, education and leadership development
Palestine, youth ecumenical movement
DRCongo, medical care and emergencies
Zimbabwe, support for Council of Churches
Philippines, organic hog raising project