Footprints daily reflection: 3 April

Waste not, want not.

Author: Father Martin Magill

Journey through Lent with daily Footprints, Christian Aid Ireland's reflections

Bible reading

What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Luke 9:17


Some of us grew up with the expression: ‘waste not, want not’ which was often used when it came to food. Yet there are countless examples of food waste in parts of our world today.

Two years ago, Belfast City Council launched a campaign to reduce the amount of food waste, challenging us living in the city to do something about avoidable waste. It was pointed out that in the UK there is something like food waste of 13 billion pounds worth each year – that’s 4.4 million tonnes of food! Imagine this figure globally when we remember that millions of people die of hunger each year.

It’s interesting that the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 is recorded in each of the gospels. It is also significant that each of the gospel writers records the detail that the food that is left over is gathered up.

John even tells us the instruction that Jesus gave: ‘Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.’ (John 6:12) I believe this was because Jesus was concerned not only about those who were hungry, but also that food would not be wasted. 

Lent is a good time to think about those words of Jesus. Cutting down on food waste will make a difference as we work for a world of zero hunger where everyone has enough to eat.


God our Father,

Help us to be aware of the abundance in our lives, help us to notice when we waste food. Relying on your grace, may we play our part in cutting down on waste as we work for a world where all your children have food to eat.



Father Martin Magill is the Parish Priest in St. John's on the Falls Road, Belfast. He is the co-founder of the 4 Corners festival, an annual celebration of life across the four corners of Belfast City and a call to Christians everywhere to reach out to their neighbours.  Martin is also a writer and a regular contributor to both ‘Thought for Today’ and Sunday Sequence on Radio Ulster.  He has been lobbying for a residential therapeutic centre for young people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction.