‘Tis the season to restock the shelves at local food pantries. For whatever reason (I suspect guilt is a significant contributing factor) the season that beings with Thanksgiving (aka. “eat ’til you have to unbutton your pants to sit up” day) and goes through New Years or maybe even Super Bowl Sunday is high season for food drives. There are at least two going on in the Wycliffe office right now. The Boy Scouts hung bags on door knobs in neighborhoods all over town. My church is collecting tomorrow. Everywhere I turn, someone is talking about donating non-perishable food items for people to need a little help this year.
My aunt Mardy spent a good bit of her life serving at the Open Door Mission downtown Omaha and I grew up believing that this is what we do. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was the year I was in Omaha staying with Louise and Elmer (another of dad’s sisters) and we three joined Mardy at the mission all afternoon serving lunch. I poured coffee and handed out slices of pie and talked to people. It was way better than an afternoon of football and turkey-induced comas. But, I digress.
I do wish we were all better at it. Better at thinking about people who are facing long- or short-term challenges that make putting food on the table a major source of daily worry. Better at sharing. Better at filling those bags.
I remember times when I felt the peer pressure to fill a bag to bring to one drop-off or another and so I opened up my cupboards and dug through the pantry looking for all the junk I didn’t like but that was, for some reason, in my house. Can of sardines. Canned spinach purchased on sale with coupons. Canned lima beans. Generic mac and cheese. You know the drill.
Now, I’m sure if I was hungry–not the “I’ve not eaten in a few hours and some chips & salsa would sure hit the spot hungry– then any of that would be okay. But is that what generous people would give to someone in need?
Bush’s Chili with Beef. Yum. Chunky peanut butter. Oh yeah. Canned chicken or tuna. Uh huh. Potatoes Au Gratin. Kraft Mac and Cheese. That’s what I’m talkin’ about.
If I’m ever jobless and hungry, I hope someone puts in a brownie mix and a bag of Nestle’s chocolate chips.
And even with that list, I’m thinking “If I were packing up a bag of food to take over to Jesus’ house because he didn’t have enough to buy groceries and pay the rent this month, what would I put in the bag for him?” I’m bothered by the fact that I’d not only pack a better bag, but I think I’d do more. But, watching what I’ve done when the food drive signs are posted over the years makes me realize…I wouldn’t because I don’t.