Thursday, December 29, 2016

Justice Devotional - Lessons on Hunger, Poverty in America’s Breadbasket

Devotion to Justice
A series of devotions from the Justice table on the topics of
  • Women and children
  • Hunger and poverty
  • Creation care
  • Immigration
Lessons on Hunger, Poverty in America’s Breadbasket
Luke 11:11

I grew up on the outskirts of a little Oklahoma town. A barbed-wire fence separated two sides of our lawn from a wheat field. A Jersey cow stretched her heavy head through the fence on the third side, to reach our greener grass.

In short, we knew from whence came our food — the miracle that transformed dirt into diet.

I lived in cities most of the rest of my life but engaged, with celebration, the urban gardening movement that converts asphalt parking lots into raised- bed gardens. These oases bring the wonder of homegrown food — and education about food, food security, and nutrition — into the heart of metro areas. Farm-to-table programs let children tend school gardens — then eat the produce in the cafeteria.

Thus, our children also learn from whence comes their food — the miracle that transformed dirt into diet.

Our family recently moved to rural Lebanon, IN — a county-seat town surrounded by crops like government-subsidized corn and soybeans. But where was fresh, healthy food for human consumption?

Oddly, I found Lebanon’s fast food joints outnumber fresh food stands 13 to one. Ironically, the County Health Department pays close attention to the one, noting that unprocessed foods — like fresh lettuce or homegrown tomatoes — are suspect.

At Zionsville Farmers’ Market, vendors label their fresh gazpacho soup as “not intended for human consumption,” to sidestep “ridiculous regulations.” Inspectors “don’t know the difference between head lettuce and leaf lettuce,” one vendor complained.

At the Boone County July 4 parade in Lebanon, dozens of children delighted in the display of everything from teen twirlers to rear-steering tractors. Both could turn on a dime. Yet many of these children (to say nothing of the adults) were obese — many of them morbidly so.

Turns out, the only thing growing in some rural backyards is food insecurity.

According to Feeding America, about 3 million rural households — yes, those that share fences with farmland — in this nation are food insecure. And: “among all people in female-headed families with related children under 18 years, 50.7 percent were poor in rural areas compared to 35 percent in the suburbs.”

So, you go on, urban farmers. Help keep the gardening knowledge alive. Too many of our rural neighbors are up a row without a hoe.

Rev. Patricia R. Case, Boone County, IN Works on young adult and mission renewal efforts for CC (DOC) Hunger and Poverty

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