Surrounded by abundance, poor people had trouble buying food that really nourished them. Fat was cheap and filling, vegetables were complicated and scarce, so salt, grease, and sugar reigned.” – Sara Miles
FOR ME, PANTRIES ARE ALL ABOUT ABUNDANCE. Abundance and gratitude. Churches see pantries as an outreach project. And, of course, outreach is a popular term.
Many congregations love to support feeding the hungry – especially if the funds go to feed a group of children in Botswana, Somalia, India. The farther away the better, it seems. It’s when the outreach is local that things get a little dicey.
FEEDING THE HUNGRY IN A FOOD PANTRY IS AN ACT OF GRATITUDE. When we feed people, we own up to the amazing abundance in and around us. We also face the fact that we are spiritually hungry. Feeding the hungry in a food pantry addresses this spiritual hunger issue head on. It also addresses the physical issue. Pantry shoppers and volunteers are both surrounded by abundance. There are millions of pounds of food available to pantries and soup kitchens throughout our fair land, all of it diverted from a landfill. There is absolutely no reason, no excuse, for anyone in the good old U S of A to go hungry.
Based on my experience in a food pantry since 2005, it’s my opinion that people having trouble with the spiritual issues begin to question who should get food and who shouldn’t get food. For some, feeding the “unworthy hungry” meant we were feeding freeloaders. But not all hungry people look needy. Some of the best dressed people in Woodstock never spend a dime on their clothes. For one thing, they have no money for clothes. For another, they shop in the free store closet at Family of Woodstock.
THE PANTRY HAD THREE SHOPPERS WHO ESPECIALLY DIDN’T LOOK THE PART. They were young women, with children, who drove late model SUVs. I don’t know if they knew each other but their stories were similar. Two of them had been married to men with influential employment and money. Neither one of them received one dime from the husband in the separation process.
The younger one had one son and couldn’t work because her husband seriously injured her when he threw her against a wall. Her recovery was slow. She always came with her eight-year-old son. I got the feeling they went everywhere together.
I noticed right away that she chose items from shelves where bending was not necessary. That left out many items but she wanted to be as independent as possible.
Another woman, Elizabeth, was a little older. She had a house full of children including a set of twins. She just couldn’t get it together to work. And, I doubt if she could have gotten employment in our area anyway. This lovely lady had a Ph.D. There weren’t many jobs available in her career field. And, of course, once a woman gets an advanced degree, the lower level jobs are just not open to her unless she hides the education. Sometimes education can be hidden. Sometimes it can’t. It all depends on the situation. The main thing is to get rid of it on the resume.
Elizabeth was very open minded about the food she selected. With five children, she basically took anything that wasn’t tied down. She qualified for cases of USDA. So, Elizabeth left the pantry with a case of pasta sauce, canned corn, green beans, vegetarian beans, refries, etc. Her kids ate everything. When she finished shopping, Robert Allen, our youngest volunteer, always brought out the cart to put her groceries on and wheeled them to her car.
The third person was in a slightly different situation. She was a volunteer in our pantry with a degree, a house, two adorable daughters, and a spouse with a job somewhere in Europe. The spouse decided he wanted nothing more to do with either her or the children. No money was coming across the ocean for her and the two children.
Laura was very happy to take the vegetarian items available each week. Her children loved fresh vegetables so there was much to choose from. Laura’s girls also looked forward to yogurt as a treat.
SO…HERE WE HAVE THREE FAMILIES with no money for food, (or much of anything else for that matter.)
So…here we have three households, single-headed households in need of food. If not for a couple of years, then at least for several months.
So…where were the fathers in all this? Not paying the child support, that’s for sure.
NONE OF THESE HOUSEHOLDS IS HOMELESS ALTHOUGH they might be when the tax collector comes to call.
None of these households is in rags although they might be when the clothes wear out.
None of these households is without transportation although they might be when/if the vehicle needs expensive repairs.
None of these household members look the part.
UNWORTHY HUNGRY? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Thank you for reading this blog/book.
Please refer this article to your preferred social media.
Please send a comment.
Peace and food for all.