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Eco-Justice Resolutions
from the Episcopal Church

Affirm Work for Food Ministries and Food Security

Proposed Resolution for the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, USA, June-July 2015

Resolution 2015-A091: Affirm Work for Food Ministries and Food Security

Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 78th Convention affirm the work and projects being carried out across the Church in food ministry, including food pantries, feeding programs, community gardens, educational programs, and advocacy; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention reaffirm and celebrate the continuing of Native and Indigenous Episcopalian communities in carrying out Asset-Based Community Development, including food ministry such as the project in Navajoland to teach the children to grow and prepare traditional Navajo food; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to deepen our understanding of the moral implications of how our food system works, through educational programs on food issues, looking at issues of sustainability, equity, and accessibility of all people to healthy food; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to deepen our commitments as Christian communities to address food insecurity, food-related health issues, and food-related environmental effects in our communities and nations, through new and creative community, regional, and ecumenical projects, such as, but not limited to, school and community gardens, church garden tithing to food banks, involvement with migrant ministries, and farm-worker and food-worker organizing; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to increase our involvement in advocacy on food issues, using principles of sustainability, equity, and accessibility of healthy food for all people; and it further

Resolved, That this Convention reaffirm this Church's support for farm legislation that is based on the following principles (originally enumerated and affirmed by the Presbyterian Church, USA in its 220th General Assembly, 2012): "renewability, sustainability, resilience, minimized carbon emissions, participatory research and decision-making, revitalized rural communities, strong local food economies, security of food supply, ethical treatment of animals, and fair and dignified treatment of persons working throughout the food chain"; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention support public policies and laws that protect the health and safety of workers throughout the food system, from farms to distribution systems to stores to restaurants, which support the workers' rights to organize; and which support a fair family wage for food workers throughout the system, from farm workers to warehouse workers to fast-food workers; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention support public policies and laws designed to protect our Earth's natural environment and to protect humanity's ability to produce food for generations to come, including restrictions on pesticide overuse, harmful industrial farming practices (e.g., overcrowding of livestock), and carbon emissions throughout the food system that threaten animal and human health, damage the soil, and threaten the climate for future generations; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention support public policies, laws, and programs designed to increase access to healthy food for all people, including support and development for farmers' markets, policies permitting use of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at farmers' markets, and the development of policies and agreements that encourage the siting of full-service grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods and communities; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention support policies and local school and community programs, such as school gardens, which support nutrition education for adults and children, recognizing that many people in recent generations are unaware of what is healthy food or how to prepare food; and to work with communities to help improve access to healthy and affordable food and places to be active; and be it further

Resolved, That this Convention reaffirm support for full and adequate funding for public food programs for the poor and vulnerable, such as the National School Lunch Program, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, SNAP, senior center feeding programs, and summer feeding programs for children, so that families, elderly, children, disabled, unemployed, and others can meet their basic nutritional needs with food that is healthy.


Proposer: SC on Social Justice & Public Policy

Explanation:

Food is central to life, both in sustaining our physical lives and nurturing our community and family lives, and in how we prepare and share food. Food in the form of bread and wine is also at the heart of our sacramental life in the Eucharist. Providing for the needy and for widows and orphans, and offering hospitality to strangers in the form of food, are Biblical mandates in both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. The Early Church organized its common and liturgical life around gatherings with food and made arrangements, beginning with the first deacon, Stephen, to feed the hungry. It is hard to imagine anything more elemental and universal in our material life than food, along with water and air.

The central sacrament of Eucharist grounds us in this literal and metaphorical convergence that impacts our common life in a way that is contextual, abundant, and sustainable. The root word from which we get "companion" is "panis," meaning bread. As followers and friends of Christ, we are called to be "bread fellows" building beloved community. The identity of giver and receiver is blurred or lost in such holy encounters where heaven does come down. This blurring of the distinction between giver and receiver is a holy economy articulated in the Taize chant, "I come like a beggar with a gift in my hand."

The need is great and is increasing even more in these challenging times, and our engagement as followers of the bread of life helps reflect the abundant life he promises. The five marks of mission, in a nutshell, are about sharing the Good news, nurturing new believers, helping those in need, working toward fairness, and taking care of the planet. Engagement with food can align all marks of mission.

Perhaps this is why so many, if not most, of our congregations are already involved in some way in food ministry, from actions as simple as occasionally collecting cans of food for the local food bank to more complicated programs such as running soup kitchens and food pantries. This is good news! However, as our nation's and world's food systems have grown more complex and industrial, even while hunger persists - even while, ironically, hunger persists among many of those workers who grow, transport, prepare and sell our food - it can be hard to imagine how a local band of Christians can help to "feed the hungry" on a national or global scale.

This resolution asks and encourages Episcopalians at all levels to engage in both direct action and advocacy at both local and national levels in response to this most elemental Biblical call, to feed the hungry. Wherever we are located, and whatever level of activity exists already, we call on the Church to take another step for food justice - whether that means setting up a local food pantry, planting a garden, or educating ourselves about food systems and how they work. We also encourage the Church to advocate at all levels of governance for the hungry and for a just food system.

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The EpEN is a national network of active lay and clergy persons within the Episcopal Church, USA, who share a common concern for the environment and a common belief in the presence of God in all Creation and who work to make these concerns and beliefs known throughout all Provinces and Dioceses within the church. Members come from around the Episcopal Church USA. The activities of the EpEN are focused on the areas of Reflection, Education, and Action. 

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last update: 2015-06-15

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