Isaiah 58:10*


It was about forty-five years ago, I guess, that the most important sermon I ever heard was given. The preacher was my dear friend Lloyd, who we lost this past summer.

Anyway, the crux of the sermon was this: "How can anyone hear the Gospel if they are hungry?" 

Obviously, this has stayed with me as a great truth.

I'd been volunteering at the mini food cupboard that my church sponsors for a couple of years, just one afternoon each week. A few weeks before Lloyd died, the school where I'd been working chose to open rather than have virtual instruction, and I felt I couldn't take the risk. So I retired. And simultaneously realized that I now had one morning each week to volunteer at the big food pantry for our county. It is literally a five-minute drive away.

And it's been wonderfully rewarding. The Thursday morning group is hard-working and cohesive. We wear our masks and keep our distance. Serving the guests is a no-contact model. I feel safe.

Yesterday when we opened up, our fearless leader (the only paid employee among the seven or eight of us) said, "I think it might be busy today. Yesterday was the busiest day we have ever had. We served 40 families. So I think today might be pretty busy, too." Normally on Thursday we serve between 19 and 26 families. So we started by preparing for 40. 

And we ran out and had to prepare more. Each family received three bags of shelf-stable groceries, one bag of meat, dairy and egg products, one not-very-big bag of fresh produce, and one big bag of special things for a Thanksgiving dinner. We had some certificates for turkeys to give out, and one of us made a trip to the supermarket for $200 more of turkeys. And we ran out.

We were scheduled to open for distribution at 11. At 10:40 there were already eight cars lined up and spilling out into the street. When we closed -- out of necessity -- at 12:45, we had served 45 families. 

We also took in a tremendous amount of donations, each bag to be weighed and receipted, checked for dates and then to stock shelves for packing the bags.

This pandemic is taking a terrible toll on families. In all likelihood, this week our food pantry will serve nearly 200 families. That is a lot of hungry people, and among them many are elderly.

At this time of year, people are urged to give to food donation programs. "Reverse Advent calendars" that spell out how to give an item a day for a month show up. Please, dear reader, know that the need is real and the need is great. If you can afford to give to your local food pantry this month, please do it, and if you can continue the next month and the month after that, so much the better. Do it, knowing that you, too, are helping to share the Gospel.

Suggested donation items: Canned meat and fish (avoid pork), peanut butter and jelly, pasta and spaghetti sauce, breakfast foods. And don't forget personal care items; food stamps can't be used for them.

* . . . and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.


Mrs. Goodneedle said…
This type of work, stocking and supporting a local food pantry, has become top priority for our church in recent months. It's the most rewarding of any opportunity to be united together in a cause doing God's work; grace in action.
Robby said…
A friend of mine ran a large regional food bank and she told me, that plain old money really is the most efficient way to give. They can fill gaps and can pay the freight on free food from mfg companies. I was a little surprised to learn this but, we give monthly to our local food bank. I do think giving tangible items is especially helpful for children to understand, and if that's what works for someone, it's a great way to give too.
Janet O. said…
I enjoyed reading of your experience. When my youngest entered school I spent a year volunteering in our county's food pantry. It was a great experience, and I could relate to much of what you shared.
We donate regularly to our pantry. The need is real, and never ends.
Quiltdivajulie said…
What a timely and beautifully written post. Our one son has volunteered with food pantries for many years. Yes, the need is sadly VERY real.
Lori said…
Amen Sister!! So many family's hurting and hungry!
Dee W said…
My stitching group used to have an ornament exchange in December. A few years ago we decided we had enough ornaments, so we take up a collection for the food bank. We had a couple of years that our December meeting was snowed out. So now we do January or February, people need to eat then too. They are always happy to see us coming. We are all mostly older, better off than some, so it's easy to be generous.