Breaking Bread: The Human Right to Food

What comes to mind when you think of your human rights?  Maybe the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Have you ever considered food as a basic human right?

If you have, it’s likely you’ve thought about it in the context of global food security.  Indeed many of the organizations that promote food as a right, such as FIAN International or the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition have a global scope.  At our June Breaking Bread meeting, we began by learning more about the content of some of these worldwide efforts by watching a video entitled, “The Right to Food – A People’s Struggle”.

Important concepts communicated in this short film include access to land, social mobilization, and democratic representation as well as the need to continue to raise awareness.

This is an important point for us here in the States and especially here in Montgomery County where even when there are organizations like ours that have been promoting food security for over 35 years, some County residents don’t know that the right to food is still not a reality for 60,000 of our neighbors.

After viewing the film, our group discussed the questions:

  • What does the right to food look like in people’s lives here in the United States?
  • Whose responsibility is it to make this a reality?
  • What is Manna’s role?

We agreed that individuals and governments need to work together to secure the right to food for all community members.  The government can support this right for their citizens through the provision of benefits, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and through legislating wages that allow people to afford adequate amounts of safe and nutritious food for themselves and their families.  Individuals have the responsibility to support each other and organizations that are promoting food security, as well as a responsibility to hold our governments accountable.

We recognized that realizing the human right to food requires considering food in the context of many other social issues of our time including gender and women’s rights, protecting land and natural resources, economic inequality, to name a few.

Framing food security as a fundamental human right can help to address not only the immediate effects of hunger but the upstream causes of hunger.  Hunger is, after all, a manifestation of social exclusion and discrimination.  It is these root causes that we convene monthly for Breaking Bread to talk about. This was the last Breaking Bread session being held at our 9311 Gaither Road location. We will take a short hiatus as we transition to our new space. Please stay tuned and I hope you will come break bread with us in the fall.

To learn more about the Right to Food I recommend this resource and others from WhyHunger.