Beating Walls Into Food Pantries

The Local Care team at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown is hard at work this week renovating part of the basement at Zion EC Church on the south side into a neighborhood food bank.  One of the coolest things about this project from my perspective is that Zion EC is only a few feet away from Roosevelt Community School and the pantry is being established with overall goal of serving Roosevelt families in need.   Missiologists talk a good deal, and for good reason, about focusing on “local and particular” concerns in the communities where mission-minded congregations are rooted.  I think this is a great example of churches working in partnership for the common good and the common blessing of neighbors.  Endless credit goes to all the folks who are working and have worked to make this happen.  I’ve been blessed to watch this process unfold, and yesterday, I was blessed to join the team for a few hours on-site.  Our volunteer foreman, Charley, let me and my friend Joe knock some walls down to open up an area that will serve as a lobby and intake center, and it was physically and spiritually nourishing experience.

This entire project is being born from relationships the Local Care team volunteers have made with leaders at ZEEC and Roosevelt, and from discerning, from diverse places, a common vision.  It didn’t start as a great idea hatched by a few mission leaders, and I’ve only been involved to the extent that I’m eager to support it however possible based on the hard, faithful work everyone has done.  As a “professional” ministry leader, there’s nothing more rewarding than supporting solid visions you had nothing to do with and didn’t start.  I’m so grateful for what’s happening.

Even though Charley’s right that “it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit,” the Local Care team, the Roosevelt folks, and the leaders at ZEEC deserve profound and sincere thanks.

Oh, Kashi, Only 8 People Believe You

Not sure when Kashi launched their new page/PR campaign to quell the backlash over their use of a bunch of crap they say they don’t use, but if you Google “kashi” the first thing that comes up in the sponsored results in a link to this page:

Really, guys, they mean it this time.

Wait, What? (Avocado Edition)

Avocados (Persea americana) Français : Avocats...

Avocados (Persea americana) Français : Avocats (Persea americana) (Photo credit: Wikipedia). They're freakin' berries!

I love avocados.  They’re a savory, wonderful fruit great in soup, dip, or as an edible base for delicious mango salsa.

But did you know that specifically, avocados are berries?

Wait, what?

Exactly.  And I think I just got a new angle for the next video blog series.

Everyone In the Government Works For or Has Worked For Monsanto

Yes, yes.  That sounds alarmist.  But given that we’ve been talking about the food supply today, and about the paper thin difference between a war between regime change in Iraq and regime change in Iran, I thought I should share this startling graphic.  If it’s true, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t matter who you vote for.  #buyorganic

Behold, the Venn diagram that explains these interlocking directorates.  Click to embiggen.


This Isn’t Recovery: Food Deserts, Food Pantries, and the 18.6% of Americans Who Can’t Afford Food

Last night I watched an episode of Life After People called “The Last Supper.”  It showed what some scientists think will happen to the food supply after the human race ceases to inhabit the planet.  A statistic I found surprising:  there are 100,000 grocery stores in the world.

You may know that I’ve been addressing the issue of food deserts on this blog and via Beerituality.  100,000 grocery stores doesn’t seem like a lot, especially when you consider that through affiliates, franchises, and company stories, McDonald’s operates over 33,000 locations worldwide.  Granted, it’s the biggest, but that’s just one chain.

This morning, two things came through my email affirming my fear that the food desert issue isn’t going away anytime soon.

Today, Jon Geeting shares “New Food Pantry Opens as Pols Debate Whether to Restrict the Food Supply More.”  An excerpt:

I think you should read this story about a new food pantry opening to meet higher demand in Bethlehem alongside these stories about how much the government should try to stop people from opening low-margin, low-overhead businesses that sell cheap food.

Food pantries serve people who have the highest need, who literally don’t have money to buy food in a store. But right above them on the poverty scale, there are people who make very little money, who, if the economy were to get somewhat worse, could easily end up needing to make use of a food pantry or similar charity.

People in that group make up a real market for very cheap meals that cost $2-5. Maybe the people in this group are buying all their meals, but I bet some are going to the food bank because they live too far from places where they can buy cheap nutritious food, and don’t own a car.

And, in the #ThisShouldBeObvious file, Alexander Eichler of the Huffington Post says “Growing Number Of Americans Can’t Afford Food, Study Finds.”  As Eichler points out:

The findings from FRAC highlight what many people already know: The economic recovery, in theory now more than two years old, has done little to keep millions of Americans out of poverty and deprivation. Incomes for many haven’t kept pace with the cost of living, and for a large swath of the country, things today are as bad as ever, or worse.

According to the study, the number of people who can’t always afford food for their families in America in 2011 was a staggering 18.6 percent.  In America. 18.6 percent.

One: There is no recovery.  If the recession is over, it’s because we’re in something worse.  You know it. I know it.  The folks running overflowing homeless shelters know it.  At the Sixth Street Shelter here in Allentown, over 1/3 of resident households are headed by people with jobs.  These are people trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, people who are doing what we’re being told are the right things and are still falling woefully short.  As Jon points out, there are millions of people one paycheck away from the same situation.

Even if unemployment is falling, it’s not a recovery if people can’t eat.

Two: As my Grammy would say, God forgive.

Fastnacht Day: Success!

Friends, I did not make it to Egypt Star yesterday, but I did succeed in my primary goal, which was to enjoy a genuine Lehigh Valley Fastnacht (plain) at Mary Ann Donut Kitchen. Like most people in Allentown, I love Mary Ann Donuts.  They are the best and most authentic of all Allentown pastries.  As Linus Van Pelt might say, they are sincere.

While Mary Ann usually has a huge variety of freshly-made donuts, bagels, and crullers on hand, the only offerings yesterday were three varieties of the traditional Pennsylvania German pre-Lenten pastry.  Reports from early in the morning had Fastnacht-seekers lining out the door for over two hours.  By the time of my visit around 1 PM, the place was still full and still filling.

My Fastnacht was excellent, by the way.  An added bonus: Mary Ann’s always delightful staff were wearing special shirts that read: