At MoSt Church we assist, on average, 90-100 families each week for about 49-50 weeks of the year. And we’ve done this for many years. No brag, just fact.
Once a year, around the first or second week of December, we put on what we call The Big One food distribution. On that day, we assist, on average, 400 families with food in one day (actually, within two hours). This year, we were privileged to assist 436 families in The Big One distribution on Dec. 13.
Now folks from our community (Baytown, TX) can receive assistance from our pantry once every thirty days. And this thirty day period corresponds well with my plan to eat for a month on the equivalent of a diet sustained by food stamps. So I said to myself, “Self, food stamps are meant to supplement a family’s pantry, not be the sole source of it, so why don’t you receive from the pantry what folks would receive through it and then supplement that with what you can purchase with the equivalent of SNAP benefits (aka: food stamps), that is about $4.00 per day?”
It sounded like a good idea so I took myself up on the suggestion and swiped a random sack from those put together for this year’s Big One food distribution. Now to be fair, let it be understood that folks who came to The Big One this year typically received three sacks: (1) a sack of produce (mainly onions and a watermelon), (2) a sack of meat (some frozen chicken), and (3) a sack of assorted food (primarily canned goods). The sack I swiped was a sack of assorted food (3).
Now I know you’re curious as to what was in my sack so here’s a picture (below) of the sack’s contents. And you should know that starting on Tues., Jan. 1, I plan to live the month of January on what you see below and whatever food I can purchase for $4.00 per day – just like a number of folks do who come to our pantry in Baytown, TX.
No, I haven’t ate Spam in decades and I haven’t ate Vienna sausage in years. I rarely eat beef anymore, so making acquaintance with chili again will be something new and sweet peas aren’t high at all on my list of favorite things. I’ve ate very little pasta the past couple of years, so mac and cheese and Ramen noodles will be a fresh experience, but I love blackeye peas, baked beans, soup, corn, peaches, tuna, cranberry sauce, and cornbread (though preparing the cornbread will require me to purchase milk and eggs) so, all in all, I’m quite pleased with what I discovered in my sack from our pantry. A quick check proved that none of the items were out-of-date and as a bonus, some of the items were low sodium or no salt (a good thing for I have only only very rarely added salt to food the past 20+ years).
Rest assured, I’m not at all surprised by what I found, for the folks who work our pantry do a superb job with what they have to work with week in and week out. Glory be to God for the generosity and labor of love that exists for those in need.