As I entered the church, I noticed a huge white altar with these yellow bottles around the top. Looking more closely, I realized they were bottles and bottles of yellow vegetable oil. My first though was what an interesting way to decorate an altar. Then… “Wow. Using money that would be used for flowers to buy food for people in need. That’s really justice!” Later I learned that the parishioners were decorating the altar by bringing different food items each week. By Christmas, the altar would be filled with food and boxes prepared for the families who use the soup kitchen that the parish also runs. It was a beautiful witness to the mission and charism of the Vincentians and a sad commentary that in the U.S. there are people without enough to eat.
We have a love/hate relationship with food in our country. We eat too much and yet are malnourished. We are so busy that we have to depend on processed food or fast food restaurants rather that eat fresh meals made from scratch. While we produce enough food to feed the world, there are millions of children who go to bed hungry every night. We throw out about 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption or about 38 million tons each year.
Does the United States have a responsibility to make sure people in the U.S. and the world, aren’t hungry? I don’t know …. but as the richest nation, one blessed with prosperity, we certainly could. When our government threatens to defund programs like WIC, SNAP, Food for Peace, USAID that feed people, and we don’t try to stop this, are we forgetting the bounty that we are blessed with or do we see only scarcity and want to protect our portion?
I love thanksgiving. It’s my all-time favorite meal…filled with memories of my parents and family gatherings. But there are others who because of poverty, famine, or war will have nothing to eat. Let us take a minute to recognize our blessings and resolve to work to eliminate hunger in our world.