Thanks for coming back. Just in case you are not returning, this post began yesterday with Enough is enough – Part One. You can check that out here if you missed it, and continue here. I’m on a bit of ramble about Sunday’s Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ and what that means in real life today. At least from my perspective.
Each day as I sit at my desk I answer the phone and the door, often greeting people in the rectory of a suburban parish who come to us because they do not have enough food. The vast majority of the people who come for help are white, largely the working (if they are lucky) poor. People who have fallen through the cracks for one reason or another. I’m guessing most of them never saw college as an option, but some may have. I don’t know. The jobs they have are usually fast food or retail, jobs that pay very poorly and that offer few benefits.
Now it is nice to sit in the comfort of our own homes and tsk task that “those people” should not want cable television, internet service, or an iPhone. Their kids should not get the nice athletic shoes our kids get nor the clothes. And they certainly shouldn’t smoke or have a decent car! After all, if they worked harder (really???) and did without, they could “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” Fair enough, not everyone is working up to their full potential, but there are not enough jobs and opportunities. And aren’t there high level scammers and grifters? Don’t we see them in business and politics every day of our lives? I don’t know about you, but I do!
We say that we can’t have more social programs for people because there are not enough resources. Hmmm… Really? Plus you do not want to keep handing food out and helping people, all the while taking away their motivation to work. I’m sorry, I would need to be handing out antidepressants if I wanted to help people be more motivated! I’ll stick with trying to help them and treat them with dignity to the best of my ability.
After all, the original point of this post was to talk about the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. And about how those of us who receive this bread are nourished to be Christ for others. Jesus did not lecture people for being poor, hungry, or ill – no Jesus helped and healed them. So as I said, I will worry less about enabling hungry people right now.
While others go hungry, there is food to spare. Did you know that here in the United States we waste over 70 billion pounds of food a year. Yes – 70 billion pounds of food. That is about 40% of the food grown in this country. Stop and think about what we spend on the grocery store every week, let’s say it is $150 (a number I made up). In that case it would mean that an average of $60 a week is thrown in the trash, adding up to $390 a month, or $4680 in a year. Yikes. That is a significant!
Locally here in the 518, Hannford (yay Hannaford!) is beginning an ugly produce section. You know, the things that are not beautiful, but that are perfectly good. Why should they end up in the dumpster? Have you ever gotten produce from a CSA? A real farmers market? Or from your own garden? Is it all “pretty?” Can we celebrate ugly produce by buying and eating it, or sharing it with others? It does not bother me and I’m glad that Hannaford is doing this now. Again, I am reminded of Jesus, who did not judge on appearance, who in fact found beauty and grace in all that was cast to the margins as unwanted or not good. There’s another lesson in Eucharist there.
Before ending this installment, please watch and listen to chef and restaurateur Tom Colicchio on food waste:
Somewhere in the next few days, our third and final installment… Thanks for reading!