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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Food: A Basic Human Right, Part of the Right to Life

The United States marked Hunger Awareness Day this week. As much wealth as there is in this country, one in ten Americans suffers from hunger or malnutrition. This reality is part of the urban "food desert" where I have spent much of my life. And in much of the globe, the situation is much worse.

America's Second Harvest is to be commended for having an annual Hunger Awareness Day. It has a good & necessary purpose, to be sure. But those of us who have enough to eat, and nutritious enough things to eat, need to practice hunger awareness every day.

Some ideas:

--Please visit the Food & Nutrition section (direct URL http://www.nonviolentchoice.info/foodnutrition.html)of the Nonviolent Choice Directory and look at the programs and organizations there to see which ones you can benefit with your gifts of political support, time, money, expertise, or something else.

--Many more prosperous Americans wonder what to do in the situation when individual hungry people directly approach them and ask for some sort of aid. Even people with big hearts are reluctant to give money because they're afraid it will go to support someone's drug habit.

Well, why not offer food? Everybody needs to eat, right? You can do one to all of these things on a regular basis, whenever the occasion calls upon you.

A. Make a habit of carrying some lightweight, nutritious, nonperishable, easily consumed (no cooking, can openers, etc. required) but tasty (to a lot of folks, anyway) foodstuffs around with you--tuck a few bars of something that foots the bill into your purse, backpack, briefcase, whatever. If the person refuses, you can try (C) (but don't be pushy about it).

B. Make a habit of carrying cards, sheets of paper, etc. with the names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. of local food pantries and other helpful agencies on them. You can offer these, too, also some people will already know the resources. But you never know when someone will need and want the information.

C. Take the person to a nearby grocery store or restaurant so he or she can choose food s/he wants and likes and you can be right there to pay for it. Just because someone is poor and hungry, doesn't mean they are required to be Properly Grateful About and Unquestioningly Accept anything at all a richer person offers them.

D. Often another valuable gift you can offer is a listening ear. As in any other human encounter, that doesn't mean you have to believe everything you hear. But basic human kindness is quite distinct from being a dupe!


Food is part of the right to life. And we all need to fight for this part of the right to life (as well as all other parts) on every level from the individual to the global, for those who are born as well as those who are unborn.

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