There I two reasons why I chose to name this blog A Shared Meal:
1. I love nothing more than sharing a meal with family and friends (see About Me page).
2. I believe that we should share with those who have limited food.
Although many would agree with this sentiment, I think that sometimes we get busy with life and forget that there are those who do not have enough to eat not only around the world but here in the United States as well.
I believe that for those of us that love food we should also care about those that don't get enough to eat each day. I do not think we should feel guilty for enjoying food and sharing meals with family and friends. I simply think that we will find our food experiences to be even more rewarding if we also have a small part in helping those that don't have food.
For me one of the most memorable meals I ever shared was with a family in Africa when I traveled to Uganda in 2004. One day my companions and I had the chance to visit a family living in the slums of Kampala. Their home was like no place I had ever been to before. Ten people, spanning three generations, lived in a small mud hut no larger than 12 feet x 12 feet. Even though it was mid day it was dark inside the hut. With no windows the only light came from the doorway, which was packed with local children all peering in to have a look at us. Chickens clucked and made their way to the doorway as well.
The family was very excited to meet us because we were from the U.S. One of the children asked if we surfed everyday when we told them we lived in California. They told us about their family as well. Some family members had died of AIDS, and four others were living with HIV. They had almost no income and told us that they ate only one meal a day. As we talked we shared some sodas and small cakes that we had brought for them. When it was time for us to leave they offered us a gigantic bunch of bananas that must have held at least 30 pieces of the fruit. In Uganda it is impolite to decline a gift, so each of us plucked a single banana from the bunch, thanking them and leaving the remainder for them. I spent much of the rest of the day thinking about their offer of the banana bunch when they didn't even have enough food for themselves. I still think about that encounter to this day, and I think it has given me a much broader perspective on what it means to be truly generous.
There are lots of ways to help. I am listing three organizations below because they do great work on a national and/or global level.
Feeding America - the nation's leading domestic hunger-relief charity. Their mission is to feed America's hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.
Opportunity International - provides small business loans, savings, insurance, and training to more than two million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors, and build a safety net for the future.
Bread for the World - a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s decision makers to end hunger at home and abroad.
There are hundreds of worthwhile nonprofits dedicated to hunger relief and the elimination of poverty. I encourage you to find one you would like to support.
For opportunities near you, volunteer to help at a local homeless shelter or food pantry. I know we can't help all the time, but even a few times a year can make a difference. Also, remember that hunger is on the rise in the U.S. Food banks are experiencing longer lines since the recession started a couple of years ago. Try to ask your local food bank about supplies that they need (baby supplies are often high on the list), and next time you go to the store, pick up a couple of extra things to donate.
If you have other ideas about ways to help, please share them with me!