We’re halfway through the 30-Day Giving Challenge. Purposefully and tangibly giving every day, for 30 days is indeed a challenge, but God knew what He was doing when He instructed us to take care of others and be generous. It’s good for the soul and helps keep things in perspective.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking alot about ways to give and I was reminded that so many of our opportunities to give involve food. It might be taking dinner to a family who’s going though a tough time, putting together bags of groceries for someone who was just laid off, serving Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless or donating non-perishable food items.
And then this reminded me of a conversation I had a few years back with Sally Goin, director of Faithworks of the Innercity. She explained to me that many people, while their hearts were in the right place, didn’t give effectively because they didn’t truly understand the needs of the people to whom they were giving.
So today I’m going to discuss three things to consider before donating food items to an innercity mission or organization:
1. Consider that many of the people they serve are either very, very poor or homeless.
Many, if not most, may not have a stovetop, oven or refrigerator. With this in mind, give only items that can be opened and eaten straight from the can or package OR things that can be heated easily on a single hot plate.
Don’t give items that need to be frozen or refrigerated.
Likewise, consider that people living at severe poverty level may not keep things like eggs, milk or even cooking oil on hand. So donating baking mixes or boxed meals that require adding these ingredients wouldn’t be the best choice. Instead, you could choose to give complete mixes that only require adding water or as mentioned before, donate items that can be eaten right out of the package.
2. Donations do not need to be what we consider “healthy”. Yes, nutrition is important, but put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. If you’re used to eating cheap, processed foods because that’s how you stretch what little money you have, then you’ve probably developed a palate for those kinds of foods.
Sally told me that when she brought a little innercity boy to live with her, she thought she’d cook him some nutritious, down home dinners. He wouldn’t eat them. He wanted macaroni & cheese. That’s what he was used to.
Sugared cereals are an excellent donation choice. Nutritious? Not so much. Useful? Very. They can be eaten and enjoyed even if milk isn’t on hand.
3. If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t donate it. How many times have I reached in my cupboard and pulled out the can without the label or the item that no one in the family seemed to want to touch?
More than I care to admit. Many years back this was the norm for me.
But the more I grow in Christ and realize His true heart for others, I won’t even consider it. Jesus always gives the best and if our goal is to truly bless someone, we will too.