Faith, Food Fair

Story by MaryAnn McCartney

Parents of a nine-year-old child just left the doctor’s office with shocking news — their child has high cholesterol. This is not something most parents would think they would be hearing after a regular check up. This scenario happens more than one might think.

Today’s society leans towards feeding our children, as well as ourselves, foods such as cheeseburgers, fries, various other fried foods, and the infamous chicken nuggets. A McDonald’s chicken nugget Happy Meal exceeds 475 calories when paired with a soda and French fries. This is more than one-third of the 1,300- calorie recommended daily intake for children four to eight years old.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church of Russellville held a Faith and Food event in September to help bring awareness of hunger issues in Arkansas as well as globally. From 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. that day attendees were able to attend indoor workshops, engage in conversation, and watch films on how personal food choices affect worldwide hunger, the environment, and personal health. Outside tents were hoisted where children could grind corn, get seeds from various plants, and enjoy story time. Adults were able to purchase plants from local growers and visit Heifer International’s booth for more information on how to prevent hunger around the world.

Volunteers greeted members of the community as they strolled up the walkway. They informed the guests of activities, where and when they were, and offered a program so that guests could easily navigate their way to different events. When first walking through the door, the hall was filled with live piano music played by Warren Harper. This was the spot where guests could make donations and place bids on a silent auction.

Located to the right of the entrance was a room full of books donated by Vintage Book Store of Russellville. Vintage Books donated 200 books all based around the theme of food. There were books and literature focusing on food, cooking, gardening and health recipe books, books of faith and food and how they were related, and how to eat healthy even when on the go. These books were available for a small donation of $3 to $5. Even young children were looking through the pages and asking their parents if they could try some of the recipes out of books. Apparently even the children were getting in the spirit of eating healthier.

The room featured a smoothie bar where children and adults were encouraged to try a smoothie consisting of locally grown fruits. Fruits of all sorts where lined up where guests could make fruit kabobs and a snack ball made with all healthy ingredients. This seemed to be a big hit with the children.

With minds and bellies full, guests could drop their children off in the movie room to watch “Store Wars,” a movie made to mirror Star Wars, except in this movie, all the characters were vegetables. This was created to be a theater for children where they could snack on natural popcorn and sip on apple cider or water. As the children were entertained, the adults could move into the dining hall where activities were set up geared more towards their tastes.

Participant Pat Applebaum was in the main dining hall sharing ideas on healthy vegetarian options. Pat began researching and learning about healthy eating more than 20 years ago because of multiple food allergies. When her husband began coping with COPD, the Applebaum’s started attending classes about whole grains, nuts and soy of almond milk. To go along with the theme of health and sharing during the food fair, Pat made her meatless meatballs.

In the classrooms guests could listen to instruction and watch videos on the importance of buying locally-grown foods. They learned that when communities chose local foods, they help strengthen not only their community but their region as well, all while connecting the people of the community with each other. By buying locally, individuals invest more local money into farms while reducing the distance that groceries travel from the farm to the home. Although buying local will not provide a complete solution, organizers believe it certainly is a start to creating more responsible consumers.

All Saints’ Episcopal Church is doing their part to encourage bringing local foods to the community. The children of the church have planted gardens that grow a variety of vegetables. Part of the day’s events for children included the planting of a pear tree. The tree should start producing pears in a couple of years. All the foods planted in the garden will be provided to the community.

That evening guest speaker Jo Luck, the recipient of the 2010 World Food Prize, spoke of her personal experiences while working for Heifer International. First, she started off with greetings from around the world, even adding, “hi ya’ll” to the mix.

These greetings represented some of the cultures with whom we share the same environment and same food, no matter what part of the word we live in.

Mrs. Luck said that there is enough food for everyone, we just don’t get it distributed properly.

“We need to work on that. When we teach and help others then we are talking about sustainability,” she shared.

The volunteers of the faith and food fair were a prime example by the way they shared their knowledge with everyone.

In her work with “passing on the gift,” Mrs. Luck worked with the women of India who banged rocks together to make gravel as their job in which they were lucky to earn a dollar a day. She helped these women learn how to make housing and care for the animals. The women went through one to three years of training before the animal was given to them. Later, they would give the offspring to another family who also went through the same training.

Mrs. Luck went back after several years to visit. The women whom she had helped had devised a plan to go even further in their efforts to become part of the solution and not just part of the problem. Every day for six months, the women set aside a handful of rice from the food for the family for that day. They sold that rice at the market, giving them enough money to buy ducks, chickens and rabbits for poor women to feed their children.

Mrs. Luck shared that in her time with Heifer International she has traveled more than 60 countries, slept on dirt floors, and gone without bathing for several days at a time. She has been shot at in a sniper alley, slept in a village next to an active volcano and survived the worst earthquake the world has ever seen.

Mrs. Luck told those in the crowd that she has eaten snake, yak, beetle, sheep and guinea pig with a smile and a thank you to the host because they were sharing their very finest. She then reminded attendees to keep in mind that while all these foods might seem odd, they were all local.

After Mrs. Luck’s speech guests were served a dinner made from all local foods by Russellville Chef Wade Turnipseed. A special thank you was also bestowed upon the organizers of the day’s events, which included Suzanne Hodges and Carolyn McLellan.

Share

Category: Community, Features

Comments are closed.