“The struggle to put food on the table” the focus of Catholic Church’s Social Justice Week

New Zealand’s Catholic Bishops are drawing attention to the increasing struggle of many New Zealand households to put nutritious food on the table, in a statement The Hunger in our Midst released for Social Justice Week (9-15 September).

This week, the Catholic community places a special focus on food security the ability to legitimately access safe and nutritious food. The Social Justice Week focus comes at a time of growing awareness of the impact of hunger and inadequate diets on school children and low-income families.
Archbishop John Dew launched Social Justice Week by having lunch with pupils at St Teresa’s Primary School in Karori, Wellington.
“As we enter Social Justice Week we recognise that the wider New Zealand community are also thinking about child hunger and child poverty. The Expert Advisory Group of the Commissioner for Children have recently released recommendations suggesting ways to ensure that families are able to put healthy and nutritious food on the table, something that has become very difficult for many,” says Archbishop Dew.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference statement recognises that food is not only necessary for survival but also for people to realise their potential. “The gathering and sharing of food is an integral part of our culture and sense of family and community, it is how we express manaakitanga and aroha,” says Archbishop Dew.

“Hunger is both the result and a cause of poverty. People who live with constant severe hunger find it difficult to focus on much more than daily survival,” says Archbishop Dew

The Bishops’ statement recognises that if there was just one hungry household in a wealthy country, New Zealanders might feel entitled to consider it a problem to be solved at an individual level. “But when food-insecure households are found in New Zealand among those receiving wages as well as among beneficiaries, and hungry children are found from Northland to Southland, community and structural responses are required.”

“The Church and Catholic organisations, parishes and religious communities respond to hunger in many different ways. This ranges from the immediate response of feeding the hungry in the shape of international aid during emergencies or through food banks and soup kitchens throughout New Zealand, says Archbishop Dew

“It also includes advocating for people to receive sufficient income to feed their families and international development programmes that help communities to have more control over growing their own food, he says

The Catholic Church recognises that hunger is primarily a problem of the just distribution of food, rather than of production. “We have the capacity to maintain food production in an environmentally sustainable way.

Hunger in our world in our time is not so much the result of production as of distribution,” Archbishop Dew says.

Resources on the Social Justice Week theme of food have been prepared for Catholic parishes, schools and the wider community.

Read the Statement from the NZ Catholic Bishops on Social Justice Week http://www.catholic.org.nz/news/fx-view-article.cfm?ctype=BSART&loadref=51&id=275
Visit the Social Justice Week blog and website www.socialjusticeweek.org.nz