Lent starts today, a traditional time of fasting and abstinence. It’s six weeks of challenging the physical self to build the spiritual self.
In 2013, my husband and I started a Lenten Challenge for ourselves based on food management. Lent was early and coincided with America Saves Challenge Week and we challenged ourselves to use up all of our foodstuffs in our pantry and freezer and buy only if necessary. The rules were to only buy perishables and paper goods.
The results? We did well and used up a lot but it was dismaying to see there was still stuff left in the refrigerator freezer compartment. For every meal that we didn’t buy food for, we put the savings in a jar and gave that to Catholic Relief Services. I don’t feel like I’m bragging about what we did or will do this year again. It’s just one idea on how to figure out how to manage our abundance knowing there are real, starving people around the world. I am not talking about just hungry people in the US. I have to continually remind myself there are starving people who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from because there is not even a gas station down the street to buy a banana.
During my formative years, I remember news releases of starving children in Biafra during its brief succession from Nigeria. I vividly remember the children’s’ little bellies distended from malnutrition, their arms and legs like little skeletons balancing seemingly oversized heads. They were just terribly underweight. Now we have other names for lack of food and famine such as food insecurity and food deserts but really, food insecurity just doesn’t seem to describe a starving, malnourished child.
All faiths seem to have some theology or practice regarding sacrifice, practicing self-control and avoiding gluttony. It can be hard to practice self-control in a social setting of fairly easy access and abundance. Take a trip to the Houston Food Bank and you will see abundance. Nowadays, we can even have food shipped directly to our house.
So for this year, we are challenging ourselves again to practice self-control, deeply remember those less fortunate and practice frugality, stewardship, and sacrifice. I’m off to inventory the pantry and freezers and assess the food creep that happens every month.
Below are the top five countries with, OK, food insecurity issues. Enjoy reading recipes from each of the top five food insecure countries in the world. Try a recipe a let me know how it turns out!
1. Cameroon – http://www.diningforwomen.org/sites/default/files/documents/DFW_June2013_Recipes%26Cuisine.pdf
2. Zimbabwe – http://www.diningforwomen.org/sites/default/files/documents/DFW_June2013_Recipes%26Cuisine.pdf
3. Comores – http://travelbystove.blogspot.com/2012/11/recipes-from-comoros.html#.Uxj-mNJDvY8
4. Niger – http://www.healthy-life.narod.ru/wor_ek153.htm
5. Zambia – http://www.healthy-life.narod.ru/wor_ek235.htm
Want to try the challenge but not a Lent person? Try the six-week challenge anyway. Donate your savings to a food charity of your choice such as Save the Children, Unicef or The Hunger Project. Or, with $200 in food savings, you can give the gift of transportation through http://zambikes.org/donate/ and donate a bike ambulance in Zambia. How cool is that?
Strength, courage, and support to you during this Lenten season.