Social Justice and Food Choices: A Letter from Rev. Bill Sinkford

This week we are sharing a letter written to fellow Unitarian Universalists from Bill Sinkford, Senior Pastor at First Unitarian Universalist Church of Portland. As many of you may know, Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth is one of NWEI’s 30 organizational partners. Thanks to Bill and the hundreds of congregations who are putting NWEI programs into action in their communities!

A recent Yale study highlights a significant gap between what we as citizens say we value and the actions we take.  For instance – “76 percent say it is important to buy locally grown food, but only 26 percent ‘often’ or  ‘always’ do.”

I’d like to think that, as Unitarian Universalists, our values and myriad food choices are much closer in alignment. Many of us engaged in the reflective process leading to the adoption of the Statement of Conscience on Ethical Eating last year. But even we have more work to do as we take this process deeper and broader.

How much thought have you given to the social justice implications of your food choices? Have you considered the environmental impacts of the food we waste? What are the real and potential impacts of our food system on wild lands here and abroad?

Shortly after I accepted the call as Senior Minister here at First Church in Portland, Oregon, I was introduced to the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI). Our church has used its discussion courses for several years and found them to be an invaluable resource. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should tell you that I was so impressed that I agreed to serve on the NWEI’s Board of Directors.

Recently NWEI released a new discussion course on sustainable and ethical eating titled Hungry for Change: Food, Ethics and Sustainability. Many UUs have used NWEI’s previous curricula to create awareness, action and common purpose on these issues. Hungry for Change ties directly to our UU Ethical Eating Statement of Conscience by exploring the social justice, environmental and health components of a food system shaped by our individual and collective food choices.  

A recent UU participant had this to say, “The Hungry for Change course book and the dialog served up a huge dose of reality, but at the same time gave me the skills to take action for a healthier environment, a healthier humanity and a healthier me.” We used the course at First Church this winter.

I recommend Hungry for Change as a resource for your congregation in taking its next steps. More than 130,000 people have tested the self-facilitated process of shared discovery, personal reflection and action. It might also help to know that Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) gains a bit of financial support with each course started. You can learn more about the course by contacting either NWEI or UUMFE.



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