Showing 'A Place at the Table' to My Wyoming Neighbors
Hunger activist Barbie Izquierdo cooks dinner with her children. (Film still from A Place at The Table, courtesy of Participant Media)
By Libby Tedder Hugus
By the time the courtroom drama of the biblical prophet Micah’s vision concludes, the Lord is calling the mountains and hills as witnesses in a complaint against Israel. During a fiery pleading found in chapter six, the case is clear: it is not proper worship or sound doctrine or great sacrifice that is required of God’s people, but doing justice, loving mercy, and journeying humbly.
Last summer when I was trained and commissioned as a Hunger Justice Leader, I had the conversion experience of digesting the documentary A Place at the Table. I knew that as many people as possible needed to see the film. I live and minister in Casper, Wyo., and while this state has not felt the recent financial recession like others have, we still have many food insecure neighbors. When the documentary was released in March, I began to research ways and means of bringing it to Casper. After partnering with Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies and recognizing that September was Hunger Action Month, we decided we would kick it off with an awareness and action event, including the film.
The fact that my Wyoming neighbors are going hungry motivates me to action because of my faith, my worldview, and my patriotism. My love of God is directly tied to my love of neighbor, as Jesus made clear in his undeniable greatest commandment. If my neighbors are going hungry but I am well fed with nutritious food, something is wrong.
Many agencies in our municipality generously help with emergency food assistance, but as the film so bluntly puts it, "we cannot food-bank our way out of this problem." It was my goal as a Hunger Justice Leader to see that screening this documentary would help raise awareness of the root causes of hunger. I also desired to help answer the question being asked in every food pantry and by every human services provider across town: how do we stem the tide of the hungry?
When we gathered on Sept. 5, about 200 Casper citizens took a collective step toward justice. For some, this was a first journey. For others it was one stop on a long-time sojourn to see the end of hunger.
For those of us anchoring this discussion in faith, it is not our patriotism alone that makes hunger disturbing. The blaring injustice that anyone should go hungry in a world where we have more than enough resources to close the gap should wrench our gut with compassion. God pleaded the case against God’s people: your worship, doctrine, and sacrifice are worth nothing if you’re not doing what is right, loving mercy, and walking humbly.
I am humbled these days by my Casper neighbors who came out to watch an honest documentary about a very real problem. I am humbled by the journey we have ahead of us to address our local, state, and federal leaders with a courageous message: this is unacceptable. This is not justice for all. We will not turn a blind eye. Our neighbors will not go hungry when we have the power to close the gap between the hungry and the well-nourished.Rev. Libby Tedder Hugus is a 2012 Hunger Justice Leader alum and is a minister with the Church of the Nazarene in Casper, Wyo.
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