At Shiloh’s Community Market in Oakland, California, Sonia Lujan-Perez picks up chicken, celery, onions, bread, and potatoes for free. This will help her feed herself, her three-year-old daughter, and her 18-year-old son. “That is wonderful for me because I will save a lot of money,” she says. She needs the extra food, especially since the cost of milk, citrus, spinach, and chicken has increased. Meanwhile, hundreds of people line up outside Shiloh Mercy House for its weekly food giveaway.
Ministries like Shiloh Mercy House and its Community Market get their food from food banks. Tens of millions of people in the United States rely on these distribution organizations for food. But at this time, some families may get smaller servings or substitutions.
That’s because this last year, more people than usual have needed help affording food. Thanks to effects of the pandemic, some supply chains have slowed down or broken. Transportation prices are up, making food more expensive to move. Because factories lack workers, food banks as well as stores are often left waiting for their goods.
Plus, everything just costs more. Some food banks are buying staples such as peanut butter for nearly double what they cost two years ago. Prices have gone up for canned green beans, tuna, and peaches, along with frozen fish and chicken. Even dry oatmeal costs 17% more than it used to. Food banks can’t go on paying double or triple the price for food while serving more and more needy people.
Think about the neighbors around you. Which of them might need food this year?
Can your family drop off groceries to a neighbor? Can you deliver a pan of brownies or a pot of soup, or invite a family over for dinner? Spring is on the way. What could you grow in your backyard, or even in a pot on a window sill, that would bless your neighbors? Food may be more expensive because of supply chain problems. But there are no supply chain issues between your back yard and your neighbor’s front door!
As you use your imagination to care for neighbors in need, remember: You don’t need to impress them with your good cooking or your fancy, spotless house. Show hospitality to demonstrate what Jesus is like: generous and compassionate. Also remember that you can’t solve all problems or feed every hungry person. But you can feed someone something. Jesus, however, can do everything. He can even multiply what you give. (See John 6.)
Why? It’s important to know that people around us may have extra needs this year. Maybe God is calling us to help.