Gather Round the Table
Have you ever met a person who doesn’t enjoy eating? I have met a few people who have different tastes than me but they sure enjoy what they eat. Take a walk down a produce aisle in one of Red Deer’s grocery stores and marvel at God’s creativity and the vast diversity for us to enjoy – and to sustain us. But there is something that makes food even better, and that is enjoying it in the company of others.
When you think about it some of your best memories probably involve a meal with special people – Christmas or Thanksgiving dinners, Birthday meals and wedding banquets.
Something happens around the table when people and food are present. Stories are told. Histories are remembered. Dreams are evoked. Laughter will break out and sometimes tears will fall. A sense of shared humanity binds hearts together. It seems that people really open up and talk and get to know each other over a shared meal.
In scripture we read of feasts and celebrations a lot, and Jesus was frequently recorded as being in the presence of people and food. Also while on earth Jesus’ miracles included feeding a lot of people who were hungry. He cares about peoples basic needs.
It seems shocking that that not just a few, but many people in our community of Red Deer are facing food insecurity. Food insecurity is defined as a “lack of access to affordable, adequate food through socially acceptable means.” If you have listening to the news lately you will have heard that the Red Deer Food Bank has been experiencing very high demand. Many people facing tough economic situations are using the food bank who have not ever used it before.
In the first 10 days of being open this year our Red Deer Food Bank helped feed almost 1000 people – this is up from 600 in the same time period last year.
Even more saddening is that fact that many of these “people” are little ones who are dependent on others to provide for them. Schools in Red Deer are seeing an increasing number of students coming to school hungry, relying on donated lunches and for some, facing evenings and weekends without adequate nutrition.
Inadequate nutrition can have detrimental effects on children’s learning ability as well as their physical development and mental health. Simply put, a child isn’t going to be focused on that math problem if he’s hungry.
It is really exciting that “we” – yes that means you and I – have been invited to participate in the Breakfast program and other food related opportunities at a couple of Red Deer Schools.
Breakfast programs provide students with healthy meals and snacks that provide the energy they need to stay alert and engaged throughout the school day; foster a happy and healthy school environment; decrease student absenteeism, in-class disruptions and conflict between students; increase student’s self-esteem, problem-solving skills and creative abilities; develop life-long healthy eating habits; and provide children and youth with the best chance at success possible!
And more than just providing a nutritional meal we will have opportunity to engage with students, to eat with them, share a meal together. Studies have been done that show that eating together can radically shift people’s perspectives. Sharing a meal reduces people’s perceptions of inequality, and those eating together tend to view those of different races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds as more equal than they would in other social scenarios.
Eating alone can be alienating. The shared table can act as a unifier, a place of community. Sharing a meal is also an opportunity to talk. To speak into a person’s life, to listen to someone’s challenges and dreams, to share words of encouragement and hope.
To learn more about gathering around this table look for the bulletin insert on Sunday, January 31 or visit the Local Initiatives table in Ministry Lane that day to pick up more information.
We will also be sharing other opportunities to engage with young people in our community through spending time at the school sharing an interest, hobby or talent that God has given you.
As always feel free to connect with Local Initiatives at LaurieW@CrossRoadsChurch.ca