Want to help feed people in need? Let’s move beyond an attitude of “be warm and well fed…” and actually help!
We all have different gifts given to us by our Creator. One of my gifts is food. I LOVE FOOD and I’m good at food.
You may not be good at food. That means you’re good at something else, and I bet it’s something I marvel at! I love this about God’s people. But even if you don’t love food as I do, or if you don’t consider yourself to be “good at food” – what we are all called to be good at is:
Loving our neighbor.
Every one of us. We can show this love in various forms, especially according to the gifts God has given us. This is so beautiful!
But today I am going to talk about loving our neighbor – with food.
Those of us who have never experienced food insecurity probably don’t think about those who suffer from it daily. How will we feed our family tomorrow? How will I make this food last until the next paycheck? How many meals can I skip so that my kids can eat?
I CAN’T EVEN.
Those of us who have plenty? We have to share.
First, Ask God
My food-loving heart is on high alert for those who don’t have enough to eat and feed their families. (Just like your gifted heart jumps on needs according to what God has blessed you to know and to do!)
If you don’t know anyone in your community who might be experiencing food insecurity or have needs in other ways, please prayerfully begin to get to know more people. Expand your circle.
If you only hang out with people who live like you, act like you, look like you, talk like you – you might be resting in a place that is comfortable instead of doing what Jesus did. He spent most of His time with the least of these. Walking with the marginalized. Seeing the poor and the lonely and the hurting and showing them love in the ways they needed love.
So my gift is food? Your gift might be something else. And WE ARE ALL CALLED TO LOVE.
Don’t tell me that you’re shy. (Laura used to hide behind that too.) Don’t explain what it’s like to be an introvert. (Laura laughs out loud at this as she hides in her quiet alone spot to refresh her introverted self and write this post.) Most importantly: Don’t be afraid.
God will be in every effort you make as you listen to His direction for reaching out to those around you who have needs of all kinds. This is very much something you’ll do with God. Not because it’s a nice thing to do. Not because good deeds are cool. Loving God and loving others is the only thing that’s cool. His way. Actually loving them.
So back to how to feed people in need.
Whatever your gifts, please be alerted to the fact that many in our communities face constant food insecurity. And many are hesitant to reach out and ask for help. I am learning this by painful experience, and friends, I live in York, Nebraska. This is a middle class, lovely small town of 8,000 and while it seems like everyone in our town is doing just fine, God has opened my eyes and heart and taught me that many people around me have big needs.
Thanks to Him, I now have multiple families or widows that I check in with regularly to make sure they have enough food to get them through until the next check or the next community food distribution.
If you don’t know anyone who is lacking – ask God to show you. He is faithful and He will do it. I know this from beautiful experience.
Then He will also show you what to do about it.
It starts with relationship. Love is more important than even a bag of groceries. So keep that in mind as you serve. People need food, but they need God’s love more. Looking into people’s eyes and learning more about their lives and sharing genuine laughs and tears and care? It is life-changing on all sides.
Bags of groceries are nice too.
Or prepared casseroles or a bucket of soup.
Ask God to show you. He is faithful and He will do it.
Soon, seeing the hurting and the hungry will become easy. Having conversations and reaching out and meeting new friends and getting to know people needs? Natural. It’s God’s way, after all.
What does this look like?
Well, I don’t know what God will do through you, but I can’t wait to hear!
Here are a couple of examples from my neck of the woods:
This week I took a fully prepared meal to a family in our community with six kids. One parent is sick. The other is trying to hold down the entire fort. They didn’t even care what food I prepared – they were just thankful to check “cook dinner” off the list for the night. This is meeting a different need compared to sharing groceries with people who have nothing. But it is still a need, and God will show you who and how. (Yep, ordering pizza for someone counts. There are no bonus points in heaven for making homemade meals. Just obey God and love people.)
Later in the same week, I babysat for a single mom so she could have a tiny break. When I dropped off her daughter later, I learned that she had cereal. As in…that’s it. She had in her house – cereal – to get her and her daughter through nine more days of the month before the next check.
NOT ON MY WATCH.
I went home and filled some bags and took them back to my friend. Thank you, God, for helping me learn of this need!
Friends, ask God to show you who needs food. Money. Clothing. LOVE.
He will show you. And He will provide.
We are not called to be saviors.
Jesus. Is. Savior. But we are called to let the light of the Savior shine through us as we love those around us in any way He calls us to love.
Often, I show love with food. I do this because it meets a real need and provides the opportunity to share the Real Source of Strength.
How can you love? How can you serve? How can you see the needs of those around you and care for them?
Ask God. Then watch Him work – while you get to be a part of the delivery!
How to Help Feed People in Need…
Here is what works for me as I help make sure people have enough food to eat:
- I ask what people like. Sure, sometimes if a person is hungry, they’ll eat anything. But I also know that a mama has to feed picky kids sometimes and I want to make that easier. I try to get a good idea of what families eat so that when I pick up groceries for them (or grab from our well-stocked pantry and freezers) I give them what I know will bless them and help them most.
- I regularly buy more than what we need. Thankfully, we can afford this, and we want to use what God has given us to share with others. I always have a nice supply of just about everything from groceries to kleenex. This makes it easy to grab some boxes or bags and fill them from our own food supply. I especially appreciate this right now because, with all of our little ones, it’s hard for me to go to the store right away when I learn of a need. So shopping my own well-stocked food supply and dropping it off to our friends can happen regularly when I over-buy, on purpose.
- I don’t give away weird stuff. As in, I don’t grab the can-of-whatever-no-one-in-my-family-likes and give it away. Nor do I give away crazy-organic-mega-health-food-no-one-has-heard-of. My goal is to bless people, not to give away our cast-offs or to make life hard because I’ve given them something confusing called “maca root…” Stick with the basics; bless people with what’s easy and what tastes good!
What have you found that works for you? How do you help people around you who are in need?
One more tip: Consider the times you have been the one in need. How have people helped you? What would have been helpful during those times? Tuck these thoughts away in your heart as you consider how you can help others!
Wow if more people were as generous as you. I live in a suburb of KCMO. The need here is so great. I donate to food pantry’s to try and help. Things they might not be able to buy with food stamps like laudry detergent, soap, toilet paper.
Bethany Lotulelei says
That’s wonderful that you donate to your local food pantry! I think it is so wise to give the items that they will most be able to use. Thank you for sharing!
-Bethany (Laura’s assistant)