There are so many things that can be said about food. It is essential to our survival. In the developed world, we eat too much and have serious health problems with obesity (and I’m one of the guilty ones). In developing countries, people die from starvation and malnutrition every day.
Yet even here in the US, the land of plenty, not everyone has enough food. So I’ve decided to talk about one small local project to feed the hungry. My church, All Saints Anglican Church of San Antonio, Texas, operates a Food Pantry.
The church receives donated food from Daily Bread Ministries, a San Antonio Christian food bank that “rescues” food that would otherwise be thrown away by restaurants, markets, caterers, hospital and business cafeterias, and wholesalers. Dedicated volunteers pick up the food and take to Daily Bread’s warehouse, where more volunteers sort and pack the food for distribution to ministries throughout San Antonio. Twice a week, volunteers from All Saints visit the Daily Bread warehouse to pick up food.
Since most of the food received from Daily Bread is perishable, All Saints runs a food drive for a specific staple (such as cereal, peanut butter, and canned goods) on the first Sunday of each month.
Every Saturday morning, All Saints parishioners show up at the Food Pantry to prepare the food for distribution to individuals and families. The Food Pantry is open Saturday afternoon, and food is distributed to anyone who shows up, no questions asked. We don’t always wait for someone to come to us—volunteers have even gone out into the neighborhood to offer food to people in the area. We take seriously Jesus’ words:
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40, NIV)
All Saints offers food for the body with no strings attached, but we also provide food for the soul for those who desire it. Volunteers frequently pray with food recipients, give them Bibles, and even arrange to provide transportation for children to Sunday School. One week a lady asked volunteers to pray with her for a desperately needed job; the next week she returned with a big smile to announce that she had found a job. Recently a man no one knew showed up with a donation of bread. Sometimes children in the families receiving food ask to help distribute food. They enjoy serving others as their families are being served.
William Wimp, who heads All Saints’ outreach program, keeps folks informed about the Food Pantry and other activities on the All Saints Anglican Church Outreach Facebook page. Thanks be to God for the dedication of Bill and Arlene Wimp, Father Chip Harper, and dozens of All Saints volunteers to the hurting and needy as well as for the generous parishioners who donate food. I am unable to participate in food preparation and distribution because of family caregiving responsibilities, so my tiny contribution is simply to tell people about this ministry and encourage their support.
I’m sure today we’ll read many blog posts about organizations and individuals making huge contributions to the problem of hunger in the world. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by the needs in the world that we think we can’t do anything. Perhaps we can’t individually end famine in Africa, but we can make a donation to help. Maybe we can’t put all the unemployed people back to work, but we can donate a jar of peanut butter or a box of cereal to help one family through the jobless crisis. We can’t end hunger in our city alone, but we can pick up donated food or prepare it for distribution. If each of us does a little, a lot can be accomplished.
As you sit down to a hearty meal or grab a sandwich on the run for lunch, I hope you will think about those who don’t have enough to eat and take some small action to help.
O MERCIFUL God, and heavenly Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men; Look with pity, we beseech thee, upon the sorrows of all in this world who lack food. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy; endue their souls with patience; comfort them with a sense of thy goodness; send relief for their needs; lift up thy countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer)
O LORD, our heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be ministered unto, but to minister; We beseech thee to bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of their fellow men. Endue them with wisdom, patience, and courage to strengthen the weak and raise up those who fall; that, being inspired by thy love, they may worthily minister in thy Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the sake of him who laid down his life for us, the same thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. (1928 Book of Common Prayer)