by Stephenie Carr
Missional Living Director
Coming up on September 26 is our Annual Food Drive – our Bag-It Food Drive – you know, the one where we accost you at the doors of the church as you leave and shove brown paper grocery bags in your hand that have a list of non-perishable food items our local food bank needs. And the same one where “mom” takes the bag home, it sits on the kitchen table or counter for a few days/weeks until she remembers it is Saturday night the 25th, and the bags need to be turned in tomorrow. After bed time that night, she quickly rummages through her pantry grabbing year-old cans of soup that no one has eaten and an extra bag of rice that she bought last month — oh yeah — and those granola bars that no one likes. She quickly looks over the list stapled to the bag and notices they need toilet paper so she grabs 2 of the individually wrapped Costco rolls from under the bathroom counter and throws in a box of macaroni and cheese for good measure. She puts it in the trunk of the car and then while everyone skips off to Sunday School, she takes it out of the trunk, puts it behind the car and runs to catch up with her family. You know, that Bag-It Food Drive.
I want to challenge us to look at the Food Drive a bit differently this year. When I was about 10 or 11 years old, I remember going to the store with my mom to do our weekly grocery shopping. Outside the store was a woman who had gray wiry hair and a strange wrinkled smile. She was standing in the parking lot asking people for money as they went into the store. My mom told her she didn’t have any money to give but would buy her some groceries if she wanted. So the lady walked around the store with us, pointing to various things on the shelves, and my mom would put them into the basket. We checked out, the lady grabbed her few little bags of groceries, we grabbed ours, and we went our separate ways. Now what is notable about this story is not necessarily that my mom bought this lady’s groceries – I think most of us would do that if the opportunity was clearly laid out in front of us – but what is notable is that I remember that shopping trip all these years later. As a 10 year old, my view of people, the world, and my response to it was being shaped and formed. Something happened for me in seeing my mom model what our response should be toward those in need. It was a powerful moment.
In the same way, I believe there is an invitation for us to make the Food Drive something more for our families this year – I’d love for this to be a project where not just “mom” participates, but all of us. Get creative and figure out ways to make this a hands on, experiential, heart involved project. Use this Devotional, nothing profound or fancy, but hopefully a starting point for conversations with your family. Pick a night this week to sit down and talk about this upcoming event. As a family, plan out how you want to go about providing needed food for the Food Bank. Maybe it is a family trip to the pantry, or maybe it is a family trip to the grocery store. Maybe it even ends in a family trip to the Food Bank to sign up to serve or a family commitment to do a hunger challenge (where for 5 days you are allotted 3 cups of dried oatmeal, 3 cups of dried rice and 5 cups of dried beans per person – designed around what a refugee would receive in a humanitarian ration kit. Regardless of how extreme you get with this – my hope is that we take the invitation to learn and grow our souls through this project.
The Twin Lakes Food Bank is serving more people than ever in the past few months and, therefore, needs more help than ever keeping its shelves stocked in order to meet the need of hungry families and individuals in our own neighborhood. This past month alone, they served over 2300 people. The recession is taking its toll on all of us, and leaving more people than ever vulnerable and in need. In the United States alone there are nearly 17 million kids who live in “food-insecure” households (which means that it is a struggle to find enough food everyday). In our local community, the numbers of those utilizing the Food Bank’s resources is rapidly climbing. August 2008, Twin Lakes served 1,602 individuals. In August 2009, they served 2,102 individuals, and this year they are serving over 2,300. These are our neighbors. And we can help give, not just out of our “leftovers” but out of our plenty. I looked up the definition for the word plenty.
[Button] noun \ˈplen-tē\
a : a full or more than adequate amount or supply
I can’t answer for you, but even with all of the cut backs and penny pinching my family is doing lately, we still can describe our house as having a full or more than adequate supply of food. We don’t go to bed hungry. We don’t go to work hungry. So, if that is the case for your household as well, get creative in how you can best bless the Food Bank through the food drive this year.
How Does It Work
On Sunday, September 26, the Twin Lakes Food Bank will bring its big box truck to the church parking lot. Our high school volunteers will pick up whatever food and other donations you have brought. All you need to do is place it behind your car during either the 9 or 11 am service. They will then take it over to the Food Bank and unload it into their storage facility for volunteers to then sort and distribute. It really is that easy.