Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Our Daily Bread & Butter

Today the Bridge St. UC kitchen is filled to the brim with hard-working food preparers. They are cooking up hundreds of nutritious meals for our Thank God It's Friday meal ministry. TGIF distributes frozen meals every Friday, some weeks more than a hundred, and it augments the Inn from the Cold meal ministry which serves hot meals for 42 consecutive days during the heart of winter.

It's interesting that today's "cook off" is right after last evening's Bread and Butter debate on poverty, leading up to the federal election. It was sponsored by a number of community groups which support those living on low incomes, including the Belleville Roundtable on Poverty. Kente Presbytery of the United Church was involved in planning and it was held at St Matthew's United Church with over one hundred people in attendance. It was curious that the two candidate no-shows were from the Green and Conservative parties. Well, one of those was not so surprising.

It was worthwhile, although a little flat because there was no actual debate and the candidates stuck to talking points rigorously. At the same time, issues of affordable housing, guaranteed income, senior's poverty, and a national pharmacare program were all raised. In that respect it was worthwhile.

In the hand-outs offered at the debate a list of half a dozen local sources for food support was included. Five of those were church programs, the sixth an excellent organization which has a number of Christians in leadership. I counted sixteen Bridge St, folk amongst the audience, and as well as people from other churches. It is obvious that this is a faith imperative for many, yet we know that having a cohesive strategy for reducing poverty is elusive. We really must do better as a society.

We have received some flack here for promoting this "debate" with some asking why we are "getting political." It baffles me that anyone would not understand that this is about being faithful, which sometimes includes being political, as least nominally. How could folk pray "give us this day our daily bread" in worship, then say a Bread and Butter debate is too political.

On Sunday I encouraged the congregation again and commented that poverty hasn't really shown up in any of the debates from any of the parties. I wondered why the leaders were more willing to talk about what goes across someone's face than what goes into his or her mouth.

What do you think? Is holding a debate on poverty issues too political? Do we need to have a wider strategy than meal and food programs, as important as they are?

Perhaps we all need to Chew on This. http://www.chewonthis.ca/

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