I want to tell you a secret. People eat year round, not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Of course that is obvious, but for some reason that is when churches like to donate to the food bank. “In the spring and summer someone else should support the food bank or the poor people should figure it out on their own.” A church would never say that and yet that is what the actions often point to.
Is there really a need for a food bank? What if you never see poor people around in your community?
Would you recognize a poor person if you saw them? Food banks are not just for people on the streets. Many poor people wear the same clothes as you, are just as educated as you and may even own their own home. But circumstances can make it that the pay cheque does not go far enough.
I would like to challenge every church to take support of food banks very seriously. Don’t just give a few cans of soup and some boxes of Kraft Dinner once a year. Put it into your ministry plan that supporting the food bank is a priority.
But what if you are not a big church? I am so glad you asked that.
I pastored at First Baptist Church in Meaford for almost a decade. One year at an annual meeting I asked the congregation what they would like to see as a project for the church. One person suggested supporting the food bank. I was very happy with that suggestion.
After some reflection, I brought back to the church the idea of raising a ton of food for the food bank. Literally. Two thousand pounds. This was not something that we would hide away in a room and then deliver a ton in one trip. Each week after weighing the food, the food went directly to the food bank. Little did we know that the food bank had considered closing because of lack of donations just before this.
How did it work?
First, let me tell you that the church consisted of mostly 30-40 seniors. But those Christians caught the vision and started bringing bags and bags of food each week. We did a couple of special food drives but by far the majority of the food was through the weekly givings of people living on pensions. By the end of the year, we had surpassed our goal of two thousand pounds.
If it worked for that church, there is no reason why it cannot work for your church. I would love to see every single pastor who reads this post to bring this idea to their congregation. Can your church of 1000 young families beat my former church of 30-40 seniors? If you are not a pastor, talk to your pastor and leadership team. If they are not interested, do it yourself. Set a goal and get your family and friends into doing this.
I want to end with some suggestions about the nuts and bolts of supporting a food bank.
- Make sure the food reaches the food bank regularly and not just once or twice a year. You eat year round and so do other people.
- Do not donate just the food in your pantry that you would never consider eating.
- Do not donate food that is expired. If you wouldn’t eat, don’t give it to someone else to eat.
- Find out from your local food bank what the immediate needs are.
- When you are picking out food to donate, pick the kind of food that you would want to eat, not just the cheapest.
- Make it a part of your routine. Every time you go to the grocery store, decide to buy at least one item for the food bank. You will not even notice the dent in your wallet.
- Consider visiting the food bank to put faces to the need. You may even want to volunteer.
- Donating money from time to time is also good. The food bank uses that money to fill the gaps in the food that was donated.
These are just some ideas. But to be honest, just do something. People in your community are in need and you have the ability to make a difference.
How important is this? Read the parable of the Sheep and the Goats from Matthew 25:31-46. Read it carefully and ask your self if this is the kind of thing Jesus would want us to do.