I thought I would use this week’s post to tell you my story and the story of how Food Shelf Friday came into being…
I spent 11 years as a stay-at-home mom. I loved being with my son, attending field trips, helping in the classroom, going on playdates, etc. We were involved with a great support/activity group called MOMS Club, and I really enjoyed the camaraderie and service projects with other SAHMs. But once J went off to school full-time, there wasn’t a lot in that group for me. I became discouraged, and felt like I was trading my life for my son’s and doing no other good in the world. I remember one particular Sunday morning when the pastor said that God has already given you the talents to fulfill your mission in this life. Your skills and passions are useful to God. Now, I was not feeling particularly skilled or passionate. I was frustrated. I prayed, “Lord, I make good cookies. What are you going to do with that?”
Apparently, God took me up on that sarcastic, frustrated challenge. I began to notice food needs in a new and more pressing way. I dabbled in food ministry meals for new moms and those coming off hospitalization, helped at funeral luncheons, participated in food drives, and started packing meals at Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). None of this was regular or consistent, but there was a definite theme to the volunteer opportunities I accepted. I found that my mind became more aware and my heart became more burdened with the world’s need for food. But in my everyday reality I was still pursuing education, my career as a historian, and comfort above all.
Then came another red letter day for me, when FMSC posted the quote, “Live Simply so others can Simply Live,” on their Facebook page. I was struck by that, convicted, and uncomfortable. I wished that I hadn’t seen it. I justified my comfort and my stuff before God. I tried ignoring the prompting that was always with me. I kept doing little things, a can of food here, a prayer there, to appease that call to live simply. I told God that I would give hunger my full attention once He revealed His whole plan for my life. Like a pebble in my shoe, this awareness of the world’s great need and my great abundance was always there poking me. And the faster I tried to get away from it, the more it pressed into my soul.
I read Mark Batterson’s book All In. I was jealous of the people he uses as examples. They had a clear plan and dropped everything to see it through. I read Jen Hatmaker’s 7, and I was reminded again of how much waste is in my life. I read Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger (full disclosure, I haven’t finished this one yet, grad school makes me a slow reader) and I was astounded by the facts and figures. So many people lack basic nutrition. So much food is wasted and thrown away. I am the chief among sinners. But I was still lost about what to do.
Enter the promo videos for Hope For Dinner, my church’s new food shelf initiative, and my small group’s involvement in those programs. I noticed that many people wanted to get involved but didn’t know what the food shelves needed, or that nutrition for the poor is so much more than calorie deprivation. Sitting on my bed researching top food shelf needs on the internet, Food Shelf Friday was born. I can’t feed the world’s hungry by myself, but I can educate and provide resources so that all of us are more aware of the needs and the solutions, the pitfalls and the resources, so we all can do more with our efforts. And so that very day I began building the Food Shelf Friday blog.
The name “Food Shelf Friday” is from my personal plan to swap out my family’s dinner on Fridays for the kind of dinner families receive from a food shelf. With the money we save by this simplified menu, we provide an identical meal to our local food shelf. For example, tonight we are eating Tuna Helper and peas, and the food shelf received the same box of Helper, cans of tuna, and cans of veggies that we’re eating. Without breaking my family’s food budget we can give away more and gain awareness of the food shelf user’s experience.
It is my hope and prayer that this blog and Facebook page will be tools to inspire and equip people who care about the hungry – that we would be informed and compassionate members of the developed world – that we would see needs and feel empowered to help rather than guilty about our success and comfort. I welcome your ideas, questions, and suggestions.
“Follow me as I follow the example of Christ” – 1 Corinthians 11:1