Social Justice Shabbat: A Discussion of Healthy Food for All

It is our hope that the expanding and varied programming here in the DJC appeals to a broad range of people. To mention but one example, at our Friday December 5th Kabbalat Shabbat service, the Social Justice Committee invited Debbie Field, Executive Director of FoodShare, to speak to our members. FoodShare’s mission is “to increase access to and knowledge of good healthy food for all”. Canada’s original, non-profit food organization works for a food system that is sustainable and accessible to everyone; getting good healthy food and food educators to schools and communities; modeling programs focused on fresh produce, schools, growing, and cooking. FoodShare has a variety of programs, such as student nutrition and catering, designed to fulfill this mission.

A large and vibrant group of about fifty DJC members came to the Shabbat service, led by Rabbi Miriam and Cantor Lisa with accompaniment on guitar by Bob Bernstein. As has become our norm, the service was sweet, joyous, and song-filled; and on this occasion the service also featured a baby-naming ceremony.

Debbie spoke to us during the service, explaining the goal of FoodShare and how the work they do embraces so much more than what we might traditionally think of as a “food bank”. The problem of hunger not only includes people going to bed hungry, but also people going to bed “nutritionally starved”; a new concept in the food sustaining industry acknowledging that, in addition to hunger, there are impoverished eating habits. As she put it, “There are just as many people in the world affected by obesity as there are by malnutrition since we are eating more unhealthy, processed food than ever before.”

Following the service, the Social Justice Committee organized a hearty vegetarian meal catered by FoodShare, prepared by their not-for-profit chefs who have learned the art of healthy cooking and food catering through their employment with this not-for-profit branch of FoodShare. DJC member Lynne Raskin, the Executive Director of the South Riverdale Community Health Centre, spoke during the meal about the situation of the various “at-risk” constituencies in our community and noted how the ongoing gentrification of our neighbourhood has worsened rather than improved matters.

While it might be easy to be disheartened and pessimistic regarding hope for the future, it was truly inspiring to learn about such an important life-changing and potentially society-changing approach to dealing with the problem of hunger. Perhaps this ray of optimism can help “sustain” and “nourish” us as we move through the cold and occasionally dark winter months ahead.

We hope to see you all at a program coming to the DJC near you!

Michael Kanter, Member, DJC Board of Directors

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