I hosted a sales presentation luncheon yesterday, and afterwards I was left with extra food – nearly three trays of hoagies (that’s what we people in Philadelphia call "subs"), enough to serve about thirty guests. So as I’m cleaning up I ask some people what I can do with the food – were there people in our building who could eat it, was there a local soup kitchen that could use it? I got lots of shrugged shoulders – we weren’t sure what to do with the food.
Then a mailman, who had ducked into our space for a few minutes of rest, spoke up. "Excuse me for eavesdropping, but you should try the Bethesda Mission, downtown. They might take the food." I called the Mission, but the food director of this urban ministry was not available. Rather than simply give up and dump the food, I drove downtown and showed up at the Bethesda Mission with three trays of hoagies, a box of condiments, and almost 2 dozen cans of soda. They were thrilled, and immediately three gentlemen helped me carry the food into their large, walk-in refrigerator. I got the sense that they rarely see sales representatives dropping off left-over sandwiches from sales luncheons.
The folks at the Bethesda Mission were grateful – but not as much as I was. If it weren’t for the Bethesda Mission – and the mailman who happened to eavesdrop on my conversation – I wouldn’t have been able to feed 20-30 needy people with my excess food.
Places like Bethesda Mission not only exist for the needy, but also for the rest of us. They serve the poor when we don’t want to serve. Yet they also serve us when we feel the urge or opportunity (or overwhelming class privilege guilt) to serve others, by welcoming our energies, our gifts, our presence in their servant midst. When our urge or opportunity to serve inevitably wanes, their calling continues, and for that I give thanks to God. For if feeding the hungry depended on my supply of surplus hoagies, or on my urge to get off my comfortable suburban ass and do something – well, then, the hungry would not get fed and our society would be much worse off.
Yesterday I was fed by the folks at Bethesda Mission. But why should we be surprised? Feeding, nurturing, caring – it’s what they do for all who hunger.
3 thoughts on “I Was Fed At A Soup Kitchen”
Its good to hear that the food didn’t go to waste. You did a good thing.
How often it is said that when people give, they get “more” back, meaning satisfaction, learning, love, or other good feelings. Maybe the Biblical commands to “give” are just additional examples of God knowing what is best for US, and not just for the receivers of our giving.
I worked some years ago for a company that was large enough to sponsor various meal functions at certain national conferences. I would always arrange with the hotel where the function was going on that whatever was left over would be sent to a local shelter or soup kitchen. Most hotels know of such places, but not all can donate leftovers without the consent of the sponsor. There is always so much wasted after these large events. This started me wondering if our regional and national church meetings/conferences arrange that with their respective hotels…does anyone know?
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