I happened to be at the grocery store the same Friday afternoon in 2020 when our governor announced he was closing our schools because of COVID. The joyous mood in the large number of people (lots of kids) who crowded into this public place astonished me.
Bare shelves in the canned vegetable aisle also astonished me.
What was supposed to be two weeks turned into months and showed us a new way of living. Life has returned to normal for most of us. We hope that’s for good, but maybe not.
This summer has brought drought and failed crops to many locations. Inflation rages worldwide. At least one ministry that supports children overseas is asking donors to up their contributions to meet increasing food costs.
While a visit to a local food pantry assures me that excess food is plentiful in our community, it would take only a few weeks, maybe less, of widespread crisis to clear those shelves too.
We are on the edge of a crisis that may disappear in the next season or may worsen if rain doesn’t come in the right amount over the next year.
What should we do? We can do what people did in the past.
When I was young, my parents assured me that “a starving child in China” would love to eat the food I didn’t want. Of course, their logic didn’t resonate with me. They had grown up during the Great Depression and remembered the rationing during World War II.
I couldn’t imagine not having enough to eat.
Estimates show that Americans waste the equivalent of 30-40 percent of our own food supply every year. That waste produces CO2 at significant levels.
After Jesus fed the 5,000, he instructed his followers not to waste the leftovers: “And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, ‘Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.’” John 6:12~
If we can’t eat it all, let’s consider other options.
We can preserve what we buy or grow but can’t consume as fresh. It’s time-consuming and old-fashioned to boil jars of fruit jam or tomatoes or use a pressure cooker to put home-canned vegetables on a pantry shelf. It’s also gratifying to take ripe produce and make it last on a shelf. Home-preserved foods make great gifts as well.
In a pinch, there’s always the freezer, which runs more efficiently if you keep it full. Consider a generator if your area is prone to power outages.
Give extra food away.
Sharing with a neighbor gives us an opportunity for fellowship. You can help someone in need save face by asking them to do you the favor of accepting your excess.
Sharing with a local pantry also helps our neighbors in need. (Remember, food provision ministries cannot accept food past the stated date on the product).
“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49~
Responsibly increase your supply.
It isn’t time to clear the shelves of all canned veggies in the supermarket. Buying an extra few cans every week leaves some for others.
Rotate your own stock.
In More or Less: Choosing a Lifestyle of Excessive Generosity, Jeff Shinabarger recounts a time he and his wife spent too much on Christmas. To make up their financial shortfall, they decided to avoid going to the grocery store for four weeks and eat out of their supplies.
As they ate their way through their pantry and freezer, they realized how much food they actually had on hand. Four weeks turned into seven as they (two adults, no kids at the time) wanted to see how long they could last without going to the store.
In the end, they endured an entire day of pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and topped the project off by ingesting some freezer-burned dinners that had sunk to the bottom of their appliance.
They consumed the no longer perfect food rather than throwing it away.
Finally, be thankful.
Whether it’s food that isn’t our favorite or something that’s seen better days but is still edible and nutritious, we can be grateful to have it.
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer. I Timothy 4:4-5~