Don't ask me how, but I managed to miss Blog Action Day 2011 even though I signed up for it. (BAD 2011 tied in with World Food Day this year.) I seem to remember last year that I got a lot more emails warning me that the date was coming up. This year...nothing, zilch. I must have dropped off the list, somehow. Curiously enough I didn't even see any tweets about it. What was happening...?
Oh, well, the only way to redeem myself is to write my own little post, post-Blog Action Day 2011.
BAD 2011 was focused on food, something I tend to focus on myself a good deal, especially as we're still eating the leftovers from my son's engagement party last Saturday. When I say 'leftovers' I don't mean tired sandwiches and soggy chips. Nope, we're still getting through the second of the two fruitcakes my wife made, plus the couple of boxes of biscuits she baked that are still partly full.
Of course this isn't really what BAD 2011 wanted to focus on...the enjoyment of leftover biscuits and cake. Strictly speaking, I should focusing on the fact that there are millions of people in the world who never have any leftovers, because they often don't have any start-overs to begin with.
I don't know where you begin with the world/hunger problem. We know that the planet can sustain all the beings on it. That's not the issue. Overpopulation doesn't actually come into it. Distribution of resources does, and of course, as soon as there's distribution, there are distribution problems: mainly ones that relate back to whether the distributor is going to make enough money or not. Quite honestly that's too big a problem for me even to think about.
Closer to home we have a different kind of distribution problem. Food being thrown out from supermarkets and cafes and restaurants because it's too much of a hassle to redistribute it. For a while, when I worked for the Presbyterian National Mission Office between late 2007 and 2011, in the late afternoon I used to go round to a coffee shop called Mash (in the Octagon) and pick up the leftover food that couldn't be sold the next day, and transfer it only a block away to the Presbyterian Support people. They didn't have time to pick it up; Mash staff didn't have time to take it there, so we acted as intermediaries. This went on for quite a few months until various staff changed (as they do frequently in cafes) and the idea got quietly dropped.
This was a drop in the ocean, of course. It could happen each day at a supermarket, if someone was designated to give away the food that couldn't be sold the next day. All it would require would be a staff member to stand at a certain door and offer the food to whoever needed/wanted it. You can bet it would mostly be the needy who came for it; other people would in general be too proud to be seen taking it. (Sometimes, curiously, the needy are too proud to take this kind of charity.)
But no, the present system is for 'out-of-date' food to be tossed into the rubbish. Crazy, but that's what happens.
Perhaps it needs someone - even a me sort of someone - to go and see the management of the supermarkets and see if they couldn't come up with some sort of scheme. Perhaps they just need a little nudge. And then, of course, it could go a lot further. I know there are certain health and safety restrictions, but I don't think they would necessarily come into play if the food was being given away the day before it was due to be tossed.
Bears thinking about...
Photo: Waiting for the soup kitchen to open, by Jeffrey Beall