There’s a movement happening around the country where workers give up their lunch hour to serve meals to poor and homeless people. The group either prepares the meal themselves or they purchase the food they give. A number of organizations are promoting this effort with great enthusiasm. If you look online you can find comments from proud parents about the efforts of their grown children, articles from media sources, and other promotions about this wonderful thing that’s taking place.
Even though I want people who are hungry to eat, this effort seems self-serving for the group providing the meal. It’s a one-day soup kitchen. It seems the efforts could be better used to help an existing soup kitchen to have adequate resources to provide delicious and nutritious meals on an ongoing basis, not just occasionally.
I would like to channel the impetus to address hunger in ways that actually provide long term solutions. What if companies decided that they wanted to hire lower skilled workers, pay them a living wage, and train them in work that could take care of their family’s basic needs? What if companies decided they wanted to create and maintain a community garden where they interacted with residents and then gave the food to them? What if the company decided they wanted to influence governmental leaders to make dealing with hunger a priority in our country so that food stamps were increased rather than decreased and that wages were adequate to provide for basic needs? What if a company used the lunch hour to provide training for their employees about the realities of poverty so that they would reduce judgment and increase compassion? What if companies decided to use their own networks to promote ways to end persistent poverty? What if…? What if…?
If the one day for providing meals gets people thinking about hunger in a deeper way, then I’m all for it. If the project primarily makes the employees feel good about themselves, then I suggest there are other ways to make ourselves feel important without taking advantage of the neediness of another person. Because…what will that hungry person do the next day?