Below is the text of a talk delivered by Paul Manganiello during worship on May 14, 2023. Visit bread.org/farmbill to start the BFW electronic letter which you can personalize. It is simple and quick. When you do contact your legislators, please let Paul Manganiello, Wendy Manganiello, or the church office know so that we can contact BFW’s Washington office.
Good morning! For our visitors and new members, my name is Paul Manganiello, I am a member of OSLC and am on the Social Ministry Committee. Welcome to our annual Bread for the World (BFW) Offering of letters! OSLC is a Covenant Church with BFW, an ecumenical advocacy movement founded by the New York City Lutheran pastor Art Simon in the 70’s.
In working for social justice, religious communities need to not only encourage personal acts of charity such as volunteering or financially supporting our non-profit charitable organizations but also work for justice to address the root causes which perpetuate generational poverty, such as the wealth gap; inadequate educational opportunities and job skills; unsafe “ghettoized” communities; etc.
BFW helps us to speak up and speak out to support those who suffer from systemic poverty.
The Farm Bill is up this year for deliberation, it is debated and voted on every 5 years. This is a massive piece of legislation. It is our nation’s most important food system legislation. The Farm Bill impacts all of us, especially we who live in rural states such as VT and NH.
We need to encourage legislation that will build a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system.
So, what does this all mean?
From a health standpoint, we need to increase access to more fresh fruits and vegetables, by supporting a produce-specific Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), allowing recipients to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets and eliminating barriers to SNAP for our marginalized populations.
From a sustainability standpoint, not all food systems are created equal. Food systems that are of industrial scale, such as factory farms can be harmful to our environment. They can be major contributors to global climate change and cause environmental degradation.
One sustainability concern is food waste. 1/3 of all food produced in the US goes to waste. We need to increase efforts to keep food waste out of landfills by increasing support for post-harvest food recovery efforts, such as Willing Hands here in the Upper Valley.
And finally, equity. Food inequity prevents many individuals from reaching their full potential both at home and abroad. Food policy made in the US can have profound effects throughout the world; both for the good, or bad, making food insecurity, or food scarcity worse.
As followers of Jesus, we believe that all human beings should have the opportunity to access enough nutritious food for their health and development.
I mentioned the domestic food program SNAP, and an example of an effective international food aid program is the Food for Peace program. This program directs the US government to purchase food produced in the US, and then donate that food to qualified international organizations, who then distribute to those in need, but it can also be used to purchase food from local and regional markets to enable people to resume growing their own food.
We can all make a difference; we can all do our part. Even if we are physically challenged or overcommitted at work or at home, today I am asking you to please take the time to contact our Representatives and Senators, concerning public policies which will affect all of us and our neighbors.
Wendy Manganiello has sample letters if you prefer mailing handwritten letters to our NH and Vt legislators. Visit bread.org/farmbill to start the BFW electronic letter which you can personalize. It is simple and quick.
Finally, when you do contact your legislators, please let Paul Manganiello, Wendy Manganiello, or the church office know so that we can contact BFW’s Washington office.