Global Hunger Shabbat in Brooklyn, Seed Banks in Haiti

On Friday evening, I zipped down to Brooklyn and joined a bunch of friends and colleagues to observe Global Hunger Shabbat, AJWS’s day of solidarity, education, reflection and activism to raise awareness about global hunger. When I arrived, our host was fretting about whether there’d be enough food for her guests—an ironic concern to voice on an evening when we would direct our attention to those whose meals consist of fistfuls of pumpkin seeds or meager rations of uncooked rice. But as the meal began (there was, of course, more than enough food for everyone—pasta salad, quinoa dishes, quiche and more), the focus shifted. As part of the “solidarity plate” ritual, guests took turns reading stories about farmers in Senegal, Colombia and Haiti who are implementing some of the most innovative strategies to address hunger in their own communities.

As I dipped into a delicious quinoa dish, I realized that I had no idea where these quinoa seeds were grown, and thought about the work that Lambi Fund is doing in Haiti: long before the earthquake, Lambi Fund has been successfully fighting hunger by helping peasant organizations establish seed banks. The seeds from Lambi have enabled famers to plant crops and trees to anchor the soil and provide food for 150,000 people in just five years, dramatically improving farmers’ ability to feed their families, launch small farming businesses and defend their land and water rights in local government.

With Passover less than one week away, I’ve been bombarded with questions about recipes and the Seder meal menu. Food has, and continues to be, a centerpiece of Jewish experience and certainly a subject that defines my family’s connection to Passover. Yet as I prepare to symbolically invite “all those who are hungry” to my Seder table, I am grateful to have observed Global Hunger Shabbat to reassert my commitment to addressing food injustice worldwide and to redefine my own role in getting back to the basics of eating ethically and responsibly.