"Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? Matthew 25:37
In the back of my mind I knew it would happen one day. Yesterday was the day. Actually, two things converged to make it a difficult day. The first, I arrived with the meal at our Galilee serving site, to find our volunteers who help set up and serve the meal didn’t arrive. After bringing in the food, I got to work helping Joann set up the chairs, sanitize the tables, set out the place settings, fill the water pitchers and ready for our guests.
Then I organized our serving table and system. We managed to get things ready just a couple of minutes late. After our prayer, we began serving at 11:34. I dished up the plates and Joann took the plates to each guest and served beverages. At first it didn’t look like we would have very many diners and then the second wave of hungry people arrived about 12:00 noon. I started cutting back on the portions – only one spoonful of ham and potato casserole, half a spoonful of fruit salad, half a spoon full of broccoli salad instead of 2 spoonfuls of entree and whole spoonfuls of fruit and salad. We had 48 pieces of cake and served it all, then went for the reserve desserts-doughnuts.
The last 2 people received a half a spoonful of fruit and a doughnut.
The final 2 people who came in heard, “I’m so sorry, we are out of food, I only have a doughnut to offer you.” She responded, “That’s OK we’ll stop at McDonalds.”
“I’m so sorry, we are out of food.” This is what deep in my heart, I knew might happen one day. Other times we have been close to running out but each time during our serving time we had just enough for our guests. But yesterday, we ran out. And our guests were so gracious. Instead of a nutritious, well-balanced generous meal – they were offered a doughnut.
One of our regular guests over heard our conversation and blurted out, “Isn’t this where hungry people come to be fed?” I know – well, I hope he meant it as a joke. It was a cruel joke. I felt really bad about running out – I started to question if I had served each guest too much- If I’d only been stingier we might we have had enough? Where were our “Loaves and fishes?” The reality is, we had more guests than usual. It is hard to predict how many people we will have on any given day. We do our best to anticipate need and adjust to meet those needs. But, on very rare days, like yesterday, we come up short.
The most heart wrenching part of my work with the Southside Community Kitchen is looking into a hungry person’s eyes and saying, “I’m so sorry, we are out of food.” It’s especially difficult, when I know that in our pantry we have additional food that could be prepared and served. However, at Galilee Baptist Church serving site, we don’t have the facility, nor the pantry to prepare food. We do keep some granola bars on hand – just in case. I pray that I will never have to say to a guest, “I’m so sorry, we are out of food.”
Your contributions to the Southside Community Kitchen, in time and your donations help us to feed over 200 hungry people a week. You make sure that we have food in our pantry; we do our best to prepare food in a quantity that is generous but not wasteful. Throwing out food is heartbreaking. This was the first time in over 6 months we had to turn anyone away. Our goal is to feed all hungry people who come to us for help. Please pray with me that we will always be able to feed hungry people in need and please include the growing numbers of people who suffer from hunger in our community.