So, I don't know, nor can I find clear information about where the Feeding 5000 project as I know it started. My first experience with it was at Grace, and they are doing it now at Christ so maybe it's a Methodist thing.
I used to attend a church that collected food on an ongoing basis, and while I was going there I looked up the Feeding 5000 shopping list because it always seemed like a good guide to me. The program aims to provide 2 days of food for a family of four. The shopping list is fairly simple:
2 cans meat (12-24 oz. each), 1 lb. dry pasta, 2 cans vegetables (14.5 oz.), 1 jar peanut butter (18 oz.), preferably creamy, 2 cans fruit (16 oz.), 2 boxes macaroni and cheese or rice (71/4 oz.), 2 cans soup ( 103/4 oz.), 1 lb. dried beans or 1 can baked beans, 1 box hot or dry cereal (12-18 oz.), 1 can spaghetti sauce (15-26 oz.), 1 can evaporated milk (12 oz.) or 1 pkg of 3 (8 fl. oz.) of nonrefrigerated milkThe reason I recommended reading this while looking at your own pantry is that I think too often people's knee-jerk reaction is to say they have nothing to give without realizing how blessed they are. I pulled enough out of my cupboard to start two bags. I spent $24.00 at the store to finish them off. I probably could have spent less but I will not donate anything that I wouldn't feed my own family. I know I am weird like that but how thoughtful a gift is it if in your quest to help you assume that people who need food assistance love all that corn and el cheapo mac and cheese. Just sayin'
Anyway, someone inevitably argues the ol' "beggars can't be choosers" line of thought. That line is more of a reminder to folks receiving something to be grateful for their gifts, not an invitation to change the world with cheap Mexican canned goods you wouldn't eat yourself. Giving should come from a place of love. I know that all the government assistance programs have really eroded that place in most of our hearts. I'm guilty of it. Why should I help out people who are getting this that and the other? Why should I help out even more, I'm already paying for xyz through my taxes? I could go on and on, because well, I am fairly Objectivist by nature. But on the softer side of me, you never know what tomorrow brings. From a Christian perspective, it's not for any of us to judge the situation, it's not in our job description. The judgement belongs solely to God, our only job is to give from a place of love and in doing so bear witness to redemptive nature of Jesus Christ....or something like that.
Hunger is no joke. Something like 1 in 6 Americans are dealing with hunger issues. Things have been rough and tumble and less than stable the past couple of years. 1 in 6 means that on any given day here in one of the richest countries in the world something like 52 million people aren't getting what they need to survive.
With what was on hand and $24.00 I gathered 2 days of food for 2 families. If I had gone out and straight up bought just enough for 1 family it would have been under $20 easy. I am not made of money by any means. $20 is roughly equivalent to a family trip to Subway. I can do without Subway once a week if it means someone else gets to go to bed with a full belly.
File it under the whole the love you take, is equal to the love you make...or you get what you give. I always have just what I need. Back at my old church, I was donating food weekly at a time when neither of us had a job or any idea what the future was going to bring for us. Using the list can make it a nice little family project. When I did my shopping trip, I told my three year old we weren't there to buy for us we were there to buy for a family that needed help, just like when he bought presents for the little girl at Christmas. Even at three he understands.
You know, this blog is titled as it is as a reminder to me to not be such a hard-headed, hearted Biznotch. I've been around a couple of rough blocks, as had my husband, and it's easy to look at life and say well, "I did it." This blog and these random trains of thought help to remind me that not everyone has the same capabilities as me. So, I do what I can (pun intended), and you should too. Besides, that can of beans has probably been sitting in your cupboard since last Summer, doesn't it make sense to give it to someone who is dying to eat it?