Rev. Nate Walker has issued a challenge to folks to practice the new ethical eating resolution of the Unitarian Universalist Association by, if one already does not live on a food assistance program, living within that budget monthly and follow the resolution text. Okay, I agree that's a practice in empathy. But that only works if you also present yourself with the same limitations in shopping that many people living on food assistance also have. Food assistance programs are also needed for many folks living with social security disbursements, because of their limited ssi & ssdi (another unethical situation – how is it that “social security” doesn’t allow for a minimal standard of living in accordance with basic human dignity?). If you live with food restrictions, too, don't forget you don't get off them during this little project. For those of you who live without them, add two months of trying to eat a gluten-free, corn-free, nightshade-free diet to your ethical eating by food assistance limitations practice.
In my state of Florida, there are total asset limits on certain categories of $2000 in total assets. Really? That can mean no personal vehicle, or being required to live in an area where access to high quality, relatively lower cost food is very limited.
So if you take this on as a practice in empathy, don’t forget a month where you only do your grocery shopping after being exhausted, waiting for someone to pick you up who gives you a four-hour window to show and then arrives ninety minutes after that window and can only give you about fifteen minutes less time than you really need.
Another month make sure you only travel to the grocery for your lowest income area (because you might not live there if you’re taking on this practice voluntarily), by public transportation, after you’ve worked 14 hours.
Go shop with your neighbors who gets by on food assistance, every week for a year. When you get tired of doing it, add an extra month to your practice. I've never met anyone who chose to live by these restrictions who didn't take it on as a religious vow of solidarity, so let me say there's still a sense of safety when you know you can, if you choose to break your vow, go on out and eat.
No growing extra food if the average person with food assistance in your community wouldn’t live some place they can grow extra food or have the time in the day or have access to the traditions and skills or have the physical ability to toil in growing additional food.
Then, try to participate in some of the congregational events many communities have, like potluck lunches where each participant is expected to bring enough extra food for twenty people. Take that out of your food assistance budget. Do it for at least a year, then decide how well the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly actually listened to people sharing hard realities of their lives.
The General Assembly delegates were so intent on making one’s own personal points to support this, we didn’t actually pay deep attention to part of our people. Doing so violated our own theological commitments to leave no one behind, to honor one humanity and one world. An ethical community will be one that seeks from here forward to address that privilege and practice a truly ethical eating – that makes sure no one goes hungry or has daily fear about where, when, and what the next meal is going to be.
Don't let your assumptions take the cake.