World Food Day at SJU

Fr. Patrick Griffin, C.M., Special to the Torch

Numerous acorns lie upon our SJU paths  these days. Walking under the oak trees, one stands the possibility of being hit, and one frequently hears an acorn fall through the branches and bounce around on the ground. I confess that I try not to step on the whole acorns. Like many of you, I see the squirrels emerge seeking the undamaged ones.

They pick it up in their little paws and twirl it around—presumably checking to see if it is okay. If it is complete, they then dash away with it to place it in their stash. It seems callous of me to be crushing their food without any consideration.

A week ago, the world celebrated World Food Day, on Oct. 16. We remembered it on campus as we do each year. Dr. Barry Brenton, with Christine Hammill-Cregan, offered a presentation on this theme and its implications at a meeting on Oct. 17.

My concern with the food of the squirrels should be, and is, multiplied when I consider the hunger which constitutes a part of the everyday experience of so many of our brothers and sisters.

Two facts about hunger in our world are well-known. First, 805 million people on our planet suffer from chronic hunger during the course of each year. Second, the world produces enough food to feed every person.

The problem is distribution and waste. One-third of the food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. The burden of suffering, as one might expect, falls most heavily on the most vulnerable.  

The particular emphasis on World Food Day this year echoes the concern offered by Pope Francis regarding the environment and its abuse which leads to damage to the food chain. The global theme is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.”

The world’s poorest farmers suffer particularly from high temperatures and weather-related disasters.  Lack of adequate water and soil degradation place added burdens upon their shoulders, as does deforestation. In some parts of our planet, such as the tropics, where fishing provides a livelihood as well as nutrition, the declining yield of catches raises concerns for providing for the ongoing necessities of life.

I try to be attentive to the acorns in order to show some awareness of the needs of the squirrels who reside on our campus. Some guidelines are offered each World Food Day in order to make small but appropriate benefits to the food supply.

First of all, be attentive to how one can waste food, either by preparing too much or by discarding leftovers. Secondly, eat less meat.  Raising livestock takes more grain than the nutritional value derived from the grain itself. And, thirdly, use water wisely.

Water is one of the great resources of our planet, without it there could be no life and food, so it should be treated with reverence.

It should come as no surprise that the biblical story of the origin of humankind begins in a garden or that the original task of the man was to care for this Eden.

There should continue to be a mutual blessing between the place and the person.