EPPN alert: Nutrition for mothers and children is a high priority

By Bonnie Anderson
Posted May 25, 2012

[Episcopal Public Policy Network]On a recent visit to an U.S. indigenous community’s lunch program for school-age kids, I watched a small boy scoop mashed potatoes from his plate into his jean pocket. “Why did you do that?” I inquired. The boy looked up at me and explained it was for his mother, so that she could eat that day, too. Half-way around the world, a mother in rural Mozambique tragically feeds her four hungry children the nutrition-devoid tree root soup for their third consecutive meal.

Impoverished women all over the world make astounding personal sacrifices to try to nourish their children. Adequate nutrition is especially important in the formative “1,000 Days” between conception and a child’s second birthday. Unfortunately, 170 million children today–from the United States to sub-Saharan Africa–remain chronically malnourished, which causes untold life-long ramifications.

As President of the House of Deputies of the Episcopal Church, I travel all over the United States and across the other 16 countries that are part of the Episcopal Church, meeting with church bishops, clergy, lay-leaders, children, managers of service programs, and with women of our church.

Just as Jesus’s mother cradled her newborn and stood with him until the bitter end of his excruciating death, so too do our vibrant, powerful, theologically-rigorous Episcopal women nurture and nourish children in Episcopal families and their broader community. Regardless of whether these women are bishops; preside in the pulpit; work in executive corner offices; or spend their days fetching water, hand-harvesting grains, and drawing trace amounts of nutrition out of unlikely foods for their growing children, Episcopal women are nurturers.

Last week, I met with policymakers in Washington, D.C to advocate for domestic women’s safety from violence–a cause I would never have dreamed could become hotly-contested or partisan in the United States today.

But even as U.S. women risk being marginalized and shoved aside in this country, they continue to cradle the intuitive wisdom the world desperately needs to break free from disparaging effects of global poverty: Women know that providing adequate food and nutrition is the single most important thing we can do for the life-long physical, mental, and, yes, spiritual well-being of babies and children. But far too many mothers lack adequate access to healthy, live-giving food for their children.

While women’s safety from violence has unconscionably become divisively partisan in the United States Congress, Episcopalian women are feeding, praying, and advocating to ensure that attainable improvements in child nutrition do not suffer a similar fate.

Join them: Tell the U.S. government to maintain strong funding levels for Feed the Future and other global nutrition programs and to oppose proposed cuts to essential domestic food and nutrition programs that nourish low-income children living in the United States.

— Bonnie Anderson is president of the House of Deputies for the Episcopal Church.