I have never once had to worry about having food. I’ve also never had to think about where I would be sleeping or how I would take my next shower. I have always had a home, a support network, and more food and clothes than I truly need. These are big things that I make a habit of taking for granted every day. Of course I’ll be sleeping in my bed tonight; of course I’ll make dinner for my family in my kitchen. I cannot even fathom what it would be like to be without one or any combinations of these necessities that I routinely fail to consider.
Which makes me wonder, what would life be like to not have these be an automatic parts of the day? How would you function not knowing what your next meal would be or where you were going to sleep or when you could take a shower? When I stop to think about how big these big things are, I am stunned at my good fortune. We have more than enough to be safe, sated, healthy, warm and happy.
Hunger and homelessness are multifaceted problem with so many causes–PTSD, income inequality, bad luck, addiction. How do you help? Where do you start? And, to steal from Dr. Paul Farmer, beyond mountains, there are mountains.
One of my favorite things about being Catholic is the emphasis on social justice, and St. Mary’s Soup Kitchen in downtown Memphis takes the biblical imperative to feed the hungary literally. The soup kitchen has been operating continuously since 1870, and it serves hundreds of meals six days a week.
Frankly, I don’t know what to do to end hunger in our community. What I do know is that since we are putting our money where our hearts are, we can at least help provide food to a few people who are in need of a good meal and smile. It’s not going to change the problem, but it will help.