One of the premises of my book Kindness to all creatures (Shambhala 2019) is what I call the triad of compassion. This refers to the interdependence of human beings, animals and the environment we share. This triad is always intimately engaged, for better or for worse, whether we live in a bustling city or in a remote area. No matter where we live, we don’t look too far to find people who suffer from lack of nutrition or simply not enough to eat. In every American city, and in the wealthiest of countries, we find poverty, inequality and hunger. This fact has only worsened as the climate emergency has progressed and the pandemic continues.
On the heels of the adoption of one of the world’s most beloved and admired teachers, humanitarian and Buddhist activist Thich Nhat Hanh, let us face this universal problem of hunger and malnutrition by acknowledging those who are working to do something about the crisis. All over the world, through inherited poverty, migrations, wars, crop failures, or just plain changing karma, people are lacking the basic meals for supporting health and the ability to make a better life. Thich Nhat Hanh has spent his life advocating for those who suffer, and has shown us all that no goal is too big and no action too small to make a difference in the lives of others.
Whether it’s a local, small-scale, or global business, millions of people care about this basic human need, especially when it concerns starving children. One organization that is working hard on this issue is Food From Far (FFF), which supports feeding those in India already burdened by the pandemic and unemployment, and increasingly unable to access sufficient quality food. Through crowdfunding on Ketto, which is similar to GoFundMe, FFF aims to raise US$1 million to feed the most needy:
Since the first lockdown, we have taken care of over 7000 families in the biggest and oldest waste dump and slums in Mumbai – Govandi. Since most of the residents of Govandi are migrants, daily wage workers, rickshaw drivers, scavengers etc. – they are all jobless and unable to afford basic food at the moment.
FFF has delivered three million meals since the start of the pandemic, stating: “The decentralized model of ending hunger through community engagement has worked in Govandi; we tried in Chiplun too, and we would like to take it to the whole country.” (ketto)
Me and my little sangha felt moved to support this endeavor in 2021, and have been given a lot of inspiration and hope by following their progress and by their recent milestone of receiving the #CovidSoldier of the Weekmore for their commitment to nurturing the needy in Mumbai. *
Hunger is hunger, wherever it occurs. In the United States, it operates in many urban and rural areas. A new organization, Support + Food (S+F), provides meals to those in need in Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and incorporates the principles of philanthropy and the use of fame and influence to aid vital causes. Many celebrities use their fame and money this way. S+F uses high quality plant-based foods with the help of volunteers to prepare and deliver meals to those in need, for their health and the health of the planet. Serving vegan meals is a way to reduce the food carbon footprint and provide people with healthier choices than standard government meals for those in need. S+F meals are prepared by professional chefs using fresh organic produce:
In 2022, we will expand to thirty states and other countries, providing a chance to have an impact greater than the meals we provide. Not only can we feed people, every plant-based meal we provide has a positive effect on the health of the recipient and our planet. Reducing animal agriculture is not the whole solution, but there is no solution without it.
(+ Support power supply)
Globally, child malnutrition impairs cognitive function and contributes to poverty by impeding people’s ability to lead productive lives. Poverty is the main cause of hunger, but so are the results of poverty from hunger, in a cyclical relationship. Despite the importance of child nutrition and significant progress over the past 25 years, childhood hunger is still rampant globally.
Action Against Hunger is a large-scale NGO working to reduce hunger and disease and improve access to long-term solutions:
We save the lives of children and their families. We are there for them before and after the disaster. We enable people to provide for themselves, see their children grow strong and prosper for entire communities. We are constantly looking for more effective solutions, while sharing our knowledge and expertise with the world. We push for long-term change.
(Action against Hunger)
To do this, they employ nearly 10,000 people and rely on donations and grant funding to support their programs around the world:
Action Against Hunger food security and livelihoods programs address the root causes of hunger by addressing issues of production, access and income. Encompassing a wide range of activities tailored to meet a particular community’s needs, our programs are designed to support agricultural production, local market JumpStart activity, support micro-enterprise initiatives, and otherwise improve vulnerable communities’ access to sustainable sources of food and income.
(Action against Hunger)
In previous articles I have explained why community regenerative farming and garden initiatives are attracting people to access healthy food, and to learn how to grow gardens themselves, another vital link to reducing hunger and increasing self-reliance per household, village or neighborhood. Direct access to healthy soil, water and clean air everywhere is key to enabling people to grow staples for their well-being, including a community support aspect.
Also vital to the sustainability of food systems are access, equity and inclusion. Blue Dasher Farm in South Dakota maintains a database of underrepresented groups in agriculture to connect marginalized people and share resources from their labors of love through agriculture. Peer support, cultural community growth, and knowledge resources are essential to a more equitable society in food justice and sustainability. The Blue Dasher farm vision states:
It is clear that BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] Leaders in urban agriculture are also leaders in food justice, and food justice is an essential component of transforming food systems through regenerative agriculture. . . . We can grow food and biodiversity conservation and environmental health. . . . Focal food systems include pasture, pasture dairy, annual and perennial crops, orchards and honey bees.
BIPOC owned farms are essential for reconnecting people with dispossessed lands and cultural ways of life that colonialism and white supremacy in the United States have undermined for centuries. Through the cultivation of plants and animal husbandry, the renewal of knowledge and the sharing of stories in the community, cultural bonds are restored and the triad of compassion is re-woven. Such described closes that:
A journey that was never as usual. As friends, neighbors, co-workers and customers alike became increasingly supportive of our farm stories, they began to share their own unique food farm stories and their history, as well as their time and energies. in support of what we had started. We quickly engaged in a restorative healing approach to land and food – which honors the interconnectedness between us all..
May you feel moved to support one of the many efforts to reduce hunger and malnutrition in your area or by a global company Raw Info. May you find ways to support the deconstruction of colonialism by promoting sustainable minority-owned farms and gardens. You can also reconnect with the lands, the global food culture, and the joy of others, whether animal, plant, or human inclination. May all beings be freed from suffering, including fear, hunger, and oppression, wherever sentient beings exist.
* #CovidSoldier Image of the Week award (The Better India)
Food From Far-Ration Distribution Amid Lockdown (ketto)
Our Founder (+ Support power supply)
Food security and livelihoods (Action against Hunger)
Database of under-represented groups in agriculture (Ecdysis Foundation)
Nigeria Shifts to Technology to Reduce Food Waste and Fight Hunger (Give Compass)
India’s Covid soldiers (The Better India)
Support + Nourishment, Food Plant-Based Initiative Founded by Mum, Develops Three in the Cities by Billie Eilish (Variety)
World Child Hunger Facts (Hungry Notes)
BDG Related Features
Buddhistdoor View: Discourse and Praxis – The Interconnected Legacy of Thich Nhat Hanh
The Cloud Is Not Lost – In Honor of Thich Nhat Hanh
Wild Growing: The Miracle of Garden Dharma!
Buddhism, Circa 2030
Mindfulness and Right Vegetable Gardens
See Buddhistdoor: Seizing the COP26 moment
Grow Your Garden: A Simple Practice in Reflection, Part One
For the Earth: Buddhist Thought and Environmental Care
Planting the seeds of Enlightenment
Is it Buddhism? The Oneness of spiritual liberation and social justice