Our town recently opened a foodbank, and when it was in it's planning stages my bff arranged to meet me and I found myself shanghaied and attending the first meeting, it didn't quite turn out to be the coffee date I had imagined, the twenty plus other people who had joined us, all over 50, (I'm being polite) were kind of cramping my style, what on earth had she got me into now? Of course I had heard the requests for volunteers etc at church, but I knew I was way to busy to be able to give my time to that!
Now we are up and running and I am very much on the 'rota' for collecting, boxing, bagging and dating preserved food. (I'm sure I read a blog once that gave tips on getting yourself off a church rota - gonna have to look that one up again.)
The foodbank scheme was established in the UK by the Trussell Trust to help people who face sudden and short term hunger due to benefit change or stoppage, immediate job loss, family break up etc.
I live in a middle class town, with excellent schools and desirable housing, of course there are the streets that you would rather not live in, I mean, some of them don't even have their own driveways, but there aren't pockets of squalor, with the unemployed or homeless hanging around outside the bookies. So I think a fair few people were quite surprised when the need for a food bank was seen, surely not here in the fourth most desirable town in the country to live in? (according to The Times or whichever paper it was did the survey earlier in the year!)
But, we have been running since June, and every week we have fed families, couples, singles, all of whom are overwhelmed by the giving of food, and the release it has given them of the burden of feeding themselves for the next few days, of course there shouldn't be a need in the UK, but there is.
People are going without food in order to feed their children, missing appointments because they can't afford to get to the hospital, stealing food to avoid starvation, keeping their children off school because of embarrassment of being unable to provide a lunch - all this in 'Great Britain'.
I read a criticism of the foodbanks recently which said "Churches should be offering 'spiritual food'".
Jesus wasn't only 'spiritual' he was practical, he was human, if he saw a need he met it, and as his followers we are to do the same, to 'be Jesus' to those who need it, whatever that need may be. And when the day comes and we stand before him on his throne he will say to us, " whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you did for me". Matthew 25:40.
Most of the things I've ended up doing at church have sort of just happened accidentally, someone has asked if I'm available or if I fancy doing it, or in the case of my friend and the foodbank, she just told me to turn up! I have to say, I think God has put me in the roles I volunteer in because of this reason, those promptings from other people have led me to take part in things I just wouldn't have considered before, and I know all of it is to bless others, but you know, I really enjoy it, and so it blesses me as well!