The food pantry is closed for business and will not open today.
Where will the hungry and homeless go now?
It’s Wednesday, the pantry day in Woodstock. Weekly, the food pantry attracts several hundred hungry and homeless people to the basement of a local church where they experience community, gratitude, healing, and a three-day-supply of shared food. The isolation often felt by hungry and homeless people is softened in the pantry. One thing the soul longs for is connection.
As people travel down their life path to the pantry, they lose things. One of the most soul-strangling downsides of this new-found simplicity is isolation experienced as people become cut off from their community. This experiences always changes reality.
When people no longer fit in, their voices become smaller and smaller and smaller until, finally, all is silent.
The rule is this: As the community for the hungry and homeless diminishes, so diminishes the support system.
All things are connected and intertwined but we have a difficult time remembering this when we are in our most alone circumstances in life. With assistance, we begin to recall our spiritual connections and know we are not along, not forgotten.
But, with the Coronavirus, this is very challenging. A few things are in play here.
First, for those needing to shelter in place, the main question is this: ” Where will I go?” Sofa surfing won’t happen anymore. The cemetery will work as long as it doesn’t snow or rain.
Second, a person without food can think of nothing else: “Where can I get food?”
For the hungry and homeless person in Woodstock, that focus is real because the food pantry closed.
At a time when the people need this food the most, the pantry is closed.
“Where can I get food?”
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Woodstock, New York
Well, actually, it isn’t necessarily what. It’s more likely who. The first line of leadership inspiration is the hungry people in the food pantry line. A food pantry really is all about the people grappling with hunger.
But, where did this whole thing actually begin? For me, it all started with Robert F. Kennedy. In 1967, he traveled to Mississippi to see poverty and hunger for what it was. Being a wealthy man from a wealthy family, he actually had no idea.
Down there he saw hunger and poverty for what it was, not what he thought it should be. He saw people, elderly people, adults, children. He saw people with no jobs, no welfare, no surplus commodities, and no food stamps.
If the history books tell this story correctly, it was the children who got to him. He saw the hunger as it was. Seeing children hungry to the point of near starvation, Robert F. Kennedy came face-to-face with malnutrition.
Robert F. Kennedy was both moved and angry.
There is a book out there telling the story of their hunger. You may or may not ever have heard about this book. “So Rich, So Poor” was written by Peter Edelman.
In reading about Robert F. Kennedy, I read a paragraph which has meaning for me:
“All of us, from the wealthiest to the young children that I have seen in this country, in this year, bloated by starvation – we all share one precious possession, and that is the name American.
“It is not easy to know what that means.
“But in part to be an American means to have been an outcast and a stranger, to have come to the exiles’ country, and to know that he who denies the outcast and stranger still amongst us, he also denies America.”
Those words resonate with me. They may mean nothing to you. But, whether or not they have meaning for you, they are powerful words and they tell a story I see in the food pantry line.
I thank you for reading this blog post. I thank you for your interest in fighting hunger. I know that distributing food in a food pantry is not going to do away with hunger.
But, this I do know: Distributing food in a food pantry will keep the shoppers in that line from starvation for three days.
This is all I can do. This has to be enough until a better option comes along.
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