Presbyterians, Lutherans Respond to Global Food Crisis

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America both recently launched initiatives to raise awareness among its members about the global food crisis.

PC(USA) has called its church members to go on a weekend fast at the beginning of every month that will continue until World Food Day, Oct. 16, 2009.

The first 40-hour fast began Friday evening, Oct. 3, and will end with Communion on Sunday, Oct. 5.

"Because we are called by Christ to respond to the cry of the poor, we invite you to take action with us by joining in an important new churchwide initiative, which we pray will make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering in the wake of the global food crisis," said the letter signed by the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of PC(USA)'s 218th General Assembly; the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly, and Elder Linda Valentine, executive director of the General Assembly Council.

During the fasting period, churches are encouraged to engage with participants to study, pray and take action regarding the food crisis.

Likewise, Lutherans are calling attention to the global food crisis through the release of their new cookbook entitled Food for Life: Recipes and Stories on the Right to Food.

The cookbook contains more than 100 recipes from around the world, and features stories, photographs, and table blessings that address issues of food scarcity and food production while sharing cultural dishes.

"Its purpose is not only to try and taste international recipes but to celebrate our diversity and lift up the concerns of the poor and hungry," explained the Rev. Teresita C. Valeriano, the North American regional officer of the Lutheran World Federation. "It serves to tell our stories in creating a better world where all people have the right to food and education."

Food for Life is organized into four chapters or "cycles": agricultural - dishes for growing, planting, harvesting, and "hungry" seasons; religious - recipes for religious celebrations and observances; life - birthdays, weddings, funerals and other events; and daily life - breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts and snacks.

"We see the cookbook as an educational tool, inviting people to be radically challenged to advocate for justice issues like the right to food for all people," said Valeriano. "We in North America should address our abundance surrounding food. When we talk about poverty, we tend to think of it as 'out there,' when the responsibility is 'right here,'" she said.

The initiatives come as some 854 million people worldwide are going hungry and another 100 million people are at risk of starvation given the soaring food prices.