CAFOD’s Vicky Ahmed takes a trip to the ‘oyster capital of Kent’, Whitstable, to talk about the realities of the global food system with some inspirational youth leaders.
“Dear Lord. We thank you for the food we are about to eat, and we are happy to share our food today with our visitors from CAFOD.” So began my afternoon working with the amazing new team of youth leaders at St Vincent’s catholic youth residential centre in Whitstable.
Tanya Jenkins (CAFOD’s Youth Outreach Coordinator) was leading a day around CAFOD’s work and values with the team, and had invited me to run a session on our new food campaign, Hungry for change, to help the team explore the resources we have to help the young people they will be working with to get involved and explore the issues around food poverty.
Full of sausage rolls and sandwiches, I asked the group to close their eyes and picture their favourite meal, to visualise the surroundings, to experience the smells and flavours and to remember the feeling of being full up and satisfied.
Then we looked at some of the realities: one in seven people will go to bed hungry tonight; we throw away the equivalent of 200,000 London buses of food every year in England and Wales; and we produce enough food to feed everyone in the world, but the way it is grown, sold and shared is preventing everyone from enjoying God’s abundance.
Just as when I first heard these facts, the group was shocked.
But it’s not just the hard facts that struck me or the youth leaders, it’s what this looks like for women, men and children like us: we looked at Winfreda’s story.
Winfreda lives in Zambia. Her family used to struggle to make a living – a typical meal for her, her husband and her two growing boys Gift and Stafford, would be pumpkin leaves. CAFOD has helped Winfreda with tools and seeds so that she can tend to a nutrition garden. Helping with an irrigation system, the family can now grow vegetables all year round. We also have given the family cows to help plough the land and supply milk. Today they have a healthy diet, and Winfreda can sell the extra tomatoes at the market.
Graces to help us share
Learning about life in Zambia inspired us all to write graces together to ask God to help us share all that we have so that everyone has what they need. I really liked Sian and Michael’s grace, set to the tune of ‘We will rock you’.
“We will, we will share our food”
As the leaders planned how they could bring the food campaign alive in their centre this year, I thought to myself that this group had really opened up a place at their table not just for me, but for everyone.
Resources for schools and young people
Find out more about Harvest fast Day, and help make a place at the table for everyone. Check out our resources for schools and young people: