Sign up to serve food and hope

Let’s live the Easter message of love and hope.
Jesus – fully divine, fully human, and risen – makes all things new. We are new. We are heirs to an incredible hope, power and creativity.
How can we share these incredible gifts? We bring hope into the world, just as Jesus did.
Throughout His ministry, Jesus walked and talked with those on the margins of society: the Samarian woman at the well is a good example. She came from the socially-unacceptable side of the border – or in more-modern parlance, the wrong side of the tracks. She didn’t have a husband; she had five, and was with No. 6.
Jesus, however, broke down the barriers of nationality, religion and culture. He chose to share His gift with her and with us.
Today, in Barrie and in Canada more generally, we still have these unwritten rules.  Perhaps in our post-pandemic world, we are starting to break down those barriers, since after all, we were all in survivor mode together as cases rose and peaked, made people sick and even took the lives of young and old.
Today, we face rising home-heating prices and grocery prices. Life feels like a struggle. More and more working families – families with working parents and children in school – are turning to food banks for help, according to Food Banks Canada.
The Barrie Food Bank reports use is up 60 per cent. More families than ever are needing help with the basics.
The food bank also stocks Little Food Pantries that offer sustenance for those on the margins. In the downtown core, there are pantries at Collier United and Trinity Anglican. We help to keep those who depend on these essential ministries fed.
On April 1, the Salvation Army ended its lunch and dinner program for those not in its shelter program. This creates an opportunity to serve and to help.
During the pandemic, the Salvation Army served more than 12,000 meals each month. Demand has dropped to serving 90 to 100 people per day, the Salvation Army reports, so the organization has handed that responsibility over to organizations like the Busby Centre, who work directly with those outside its shelter program. Instead, the Salvation Army says it will focus on transitional housing – another need.
Helping people get sheltered – and stay sheltered – opens up opportunities for self-sufficiency. It reinforces inclusion and ensures a basic need is met, so an individual can access other supports. The need for housing is indeed a critical one.
A similar meal program has been done before and it can be done again. When St. Andrew’s started Out of the Cold by opening our doors to those who had nowhere to sleep 25 or so years ago, we served meals. As the Out of the Cold grew, teams of volunteers prepared meals served in the churches that shared the sheltering. That program is now part of the Busby Centre’s mandate. We had also operated a soup kitchen on Sundays; the Salvation Army took over that task. Now serving meals is, once again, back in the hands of those who provide shelter for those who struggle with housing insecurity.
The Busby Centre needs volunteers to help make and serve lunch and dinner. Busby’s resource development coordinator Candace Gordon writes: “We have developed an on-line sign-up form for those who are interested in supporting the Community Meals through Busby Centre. This sign-up sheet can allow a group, or person, to register for a day of their choice to be able to bring a meal, and potentially help serve, if possible. If a group or individual would like to choose a recurring time spot, we can help to make that happen.
“There is no need to register to sign-up, simply find your date, time slot, select it, click sign up and presto, add email and group name and you’re done!”
photo credit: @Mayur Gala
So as we reflect on how Jesus showed His love for His friends, we can consider whether we like to cook or bake or want to be part of a team that helps with a meal for those facing housing and food insecurity – or more bluntly, those with nowhere to sleep, no place to cook anything, and no idea of what their next meal will be.
Let’s – that’s me and you – be the reason someone feels seen, heard or supported. That’s giving and that’s living how Jesus calls us to live.