Friday, October 17, 2014

Chew on This!

During November we will engage in conversation around Sara Miles' provocative and worthwhile book called Take This Bread. Miles was an avowed atheist who became a Christian passionately involved in the food ministry in her congregation. Bridge St. United Church has two important meal ministries. One is called Inn from the Cold and it provides hot, sit-down meals during a six-week period in the coldest part of the winter. Thank God It's Friday is a once-a-week distribution of frozen meals. These ministries combine to provide over 8,000 meals with 150 volunteers involved. I think the work is impressive,

Still, one of the questions we need to ask is why we do this as a congregation. Another is what meal distribution contributes to the bigger challenge of food security for those who are at the margins of our affluent society. The metaphor of rescuing children repeatedly from a raging river without ever asking what is happening upstream to put them there is apt. We don't want to be involved in meal distribution to assuage our consciences, nor do we want them to be a bandaid for the real wounds of those who need systemic change.

Today volunteers in 12 cities will hand out paper bags with the words Chew on This!, as well as a postcard describing the food security or insecurity situation in Canada. This is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The hope is that the federal government will create a plan for poverty elimination through a number of prongs, but there have been plenty of plans put forward by different levels of government through the decades which have been stillborn.

As I have said before, I think it is hopeful that different agencies including congregational food ministries are coming together in Belleville to develop their own strategies for support and advocacy.

Any comments about the meal ministries offered at Bridge St. and other congregations? Today meals will be distributed here, with grateful recipients. Have you been involved in developing any "bigger picture" strategies in your community to support those who struggle to eat well? Is this as aspect of our Christian faith and commitment to justice?

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