By Amanda Brancato
Food justice: the belief that healthy food is a human right.
As we head into the holiday season, filled with treats and homemade cooking, we are apt to forget the primary role of food. Eating for pleasure is part of our culture. Roast beef, mashed potatoes, gingerbread, etc. Food is the centerpiece of our holiday table.
Eating for pleasure allows us to forget food’s first job: nourishment. Food keeps us alive. It powers our bodies, relationships and culture. It affects our physical and mental health, social functioning, learning ability and childhood development.
Many people don’t have access to nutritious food, a basic human right. Access to food depends on proximity, affordability, cultural appropriateness and ability to receive.
Student Food Rescue (SFR) promotes food justice and nurtures healthy lives, physically and mentally, by providing fresh food to local Bostonians in need. SFR works with several community partners to provide healthy meals for those without access. Community Servings provides nutritious meals to those with physical and mental illnesses.
“I have so much more energy and vigor since getting more food variety in my meals: I love the soups and milk! I feel the difference, the strength,” said Liyanage, a Community Servings client.
SFR also delivers food to Rosie’s Place, a sanctuary for poor and homeless women in Boston. They have 1,800 guests per month and provide 20 to 40lbs of food for the guests and their families.
But food is only part of this equation. Accoring to Rosie’s Place representatives, they are not an intake center, they are a community center. “We’re not just a shelter, we’re bustling classrooms, an encouraging friend, a helpful resource, a welcoming Dining Room, a hot shower, a food pantry and so much more,” said one Rosie’s Place representative.
Rosie’s Place relies solely on donations to their food pantry, which provides women and their children with fresh fruits and vegetables. Children are then able to focus on education without the distraction of hunger, and mothers have energy to support them.
While food is just one piece in the fight for social justice, intersection exists. Children can’t learn on an empty stomach, mothers and fathers can’t support their families without food, families can’t be lifted out of poverty without proper meals, and public health will decline without proper nutrition.
This holiday season, consider donating to food pantry or one of Student Food Rescue’s community partners. A little food goes a long way.
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all,” said Ban Ki Moon.
Food is our primary support system. Now that’s food for thought.