Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just to Clarify

I have worked hard in my life not to be a reactor, but it is a continual challenge to maintain a non-anxious presence, whether in my life as a pastor, or even as a blogger. Any of those three venues opens a person to critique, deserved or undeserved. In those situations it always important to know oneself, or to clarify once again (with growing awareness, ideally, not from a defensive, this-is-always-how-I-have-been posture) who one is.

So let me clarify my blog entry about $1.75 per meal.

As the grocery shopper and cook of a large family (on a night when everyone from our family is present, excepting adult children who live outside the home, there are eleven of us at the table) I know that usually our per person cost is less than $1.75. So, I do understand that it is possible to eat, and eat healthily and economically, for less than the amount a person subsisting on food stamps receives.

I have been blessed with the opportunity of intellectual development, economic security (for which both Claudia and I work hard), and family origins that taught me values of conservation, frugality and thrift (even if I do not always practice those virtues consistently, I do know *how* to do so).

What I wanted my kids to understand in our MLK Day project is that there are people in our world, in our community, perhaps even a door or two from where we live, who have not had the benefits I (and they now) have. I wanted them to recognize that people who rely upon food stamps for the basis of their food supply often lack education, may not have a stable housing situation and few resources to help them understand how to live except in a transient fashion. The truth is that people on the margins, who wonder from day to day or month to month where they are going to live have little energy left to organize and plan a home food pantry, make menu plans, follow sales at the grocery store or even to plant a garden with fresh produce.

Because some of these basic safety nets in society are harder and harder for challenged folks to secure, it means that their $1.75 per meal is pretty meager.

What I like about the comments I have received is that there are good, proactive suggestions. Yes, I think our church should offer classes to assist others to understand how to shop and cook economically and nutritionally. I would like to have a garden -- perhaps this will be the year we do that at home -- and would like to share produce with others.

These are good suggestions, but I want my kids to realize that there are big, systemic issues for the "low income" amongst us. And, of course, I want my children to understand that all of us need to break down the divisions that exist between "us" and "them" (however that is described). When people cannot find a job that pays more than $7 an hour, or affordable, safe housing or the most basic in health insurance, then food supply issues become even more paramount.

I'm carefully considering how I personally and pastorally might do better work in this arena, and prayerfully, earnestly hope my children will see their connection with all of God's creation (human and otherwise) as how people of Christian faith live.


Cindy said...

Bart - Our Methodist church has a program called "Feed My Sheep". This was conceptualized and implemented by the youth of our church. On the fourth Sunday of the month, boxes are placed in the vestry. Anyone who wishes to help brings a nonperishable food item to contribute (or more if they'd like). Then the youth takes the boxes to our local food pantry. Just another random thought.

In His peace - Cindy
MoM(Mom of Many)

Bart said...

That's another excellent idea. I hope others are reading the comments so they might get ideas for themselves, too.

In our congregation we have a group of gardeners who bring their extra produce each week to share with others. It's not as organized as your program is, but the intention is similar.