Essay Contest Entry

As part of its task to educate people and to promote the awareness of Catholic Social Teachings, the CCJP has been organising essay contests for our schools. After consulting Directors of Religious Studies, the contest was expanded in 2013 to include the possibility of ‘Multi Media’ (e.g. PowerPoint). In 2013, the Contest was Titled: Our Daily Bread: Putting Food on the Table. The brief was:

There are people in the world who are starving, and those who suffer from the lack of food security, which basically means being uncertain about where their next meal is coming from. Increasingly, a significant number of New Zealanders also find themselves in this situation. The problem in our time is not so much a result of food production but of food distribution.

What solution can we propose to the world, and those in positions of influence, to remedy this? Put your thoughts in an essay, or a multimedia presentation. The entry must explore Key Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

In 2013, the winner for year 11-13 was a Movie clip by Bridgette Thwaites. She won $500, and the right for her college to hold on to the Diocesan Justice and Peace Cup for one year. The college was also given a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The winning essay entry from Year 9-10 went to Tomo Dorrance who won $300 and a copy of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church for his college.

by Tomo Dorrance (Year 9) St Bedes College

There are many people in the world who are hungry. There are 925 million extremely hungry people and every six seconds a child dies of hunger1 . Hunger is mentioned throughout the Bible, for example Matthew (25:35): “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” In the Gospel of St Luke (9:10-17) Jesus tells the twelve disciples to go out themselves and feed the hungry five thousand men with just the five loaves and two fish. Jesus was very directive; “You yourselves, give them something to eat.” However there is not a shortage of food across the world. Each year in New Zealand $750 million dollars of food is wasted. That is $450 per household2 . The main problem with world hunger is food distribution and food insecurity. Pope John Paul II reiterated that “There would be enough food for everyone in the world if it was adequately distributed”3 .

Food insecurity is where a person does not have any certainty over where they will be able to get their food from.

Drought is one cause of food insecurity. Drought can cause malnutrition, death, loss of animals, plants, seeds and work. There is severe drought in the area of West Africa (the Sahel). This is because of little rain, poor harvests and rising food prices. Other causes include the overgrazing of cattle and climate change. In June 2012 about 12 million people were malnourished and at risk of dying. Malnutrition occurs when a person is not getting enough food, or not enough nutrient-rich food. Malnutrition and hunger account for sixty percent of the 10.9 million children who die each year in developing countries4 . In the Sahel, the food shortages have developed into food insecurity. Hunger is the world’s number one health risk. One in seven people go to bed hungry. One four children in developing countries is underweight. There are more hungry people in the world than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 25 states that “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family including food.”

Catholic Social Teaching maintains that the world is for all to enjoy, not just the rich. There should be a universal destination of goods, which means if we have more than enough, we have a moral obligation to ensure others do not go without.

So what can we do? How can we help? Caritas the Catholic Aid Agency works with people experiencing hunger and food insecurity. In emergencies, plumpynut (a ready to use therapeutic food that looks like a paste in a muesli bar wrapper) is used to help cure serious malnutrition. Caritas also works with partner agencies to distribute food such as beans and maize. Work for food programmes have been set up like digging essential pipelines in exchange for daily food. This allows security for families. Caritas also provides drought resistant seeds in the Sahel. Caritas accepts donations to continue its work overseas in humanitarian aid. Matthew 25:40 reminds us “The King will reply, I tell you, wherever you did this for one of the least of my brothers of mine, you did it for me.” It should not matter that we do not know the person in need. What matters is a person is in need.

Some problems which result in food insecurity is where farmers are treated unfairly. Some cocoa bean farmers in the Ivory Coast in Africa, have terrible working conditions, most do not get paid a reasonable amount for their raw product and some farms use trafficked children working as slaves from other African countries. The cocoa beans are sold very cheaply to well known chocolate manufacturers. Buying the raw cocoa bean off the farmers does not allow for much pro t and some farmers are selling their product at a loss. The Catholic Church supports Fairtrade certi ed products. This mean the original seller or producer gets paid a reasonable amount of money. This ensures the farmer has enough money to feed his own family. Currently Fairtrade cocoa bean farmers can only sell about ten percent of their product as certi ed Fairtrade due to insuf cient demand in the world. If we buy more Fairtrade products we can ensure people are not exploited. Supporting each other in a collective programme highlights the principle of Catholic Social teaching called Solidarity. The Catholic Church suggests we should stand together to support each other when things are not right. There is a problem when a cocoa bean farmers works 16 hour days so we can eat a chocolate bar while his own children go to bed hungry.

Pope John Paul II in 1996 challenged us all: “How can we not open our ears and our hearts and start to make available those five loaves and two sh which God has put in our hands?”5 If we choose to do nothing, we conclude nothing is wrong.


 

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and United Nations World Food Programme. (2010). The State of Food Insecurity in the World.
  2. The New Zealand Herald, 18 April 2011.
  3. Pope John Paul II, Message for World Food Day, 2000.
  4. UNICEF. (2007). The State of the World’s Children.
  5. Pope John Paul II, Lenten message, 1996

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