The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.” Matthew 25:40
Years ago, my husband attended an orthopedic surgeons’ symposium in San Francisco, and I went along. One night, we stopped for a quick bite at a fast food restaurant. I casually watched a customer leave the restaurant, carrying a half-eaten sandwich. He took one last bite as he exited, and threw the rest in a trash barrel outside. Instantly, another man in disheveled clothing reached deep into the barrel and retrieved the partially eaten sandwich, devouring it hungrily in one gulp. A strange thought came to my mind: I own that garbage can. It was the first time I had ever seen anyone “dumpster diving,” and it had a profound effect on me.
According to the Huffington Post, Americans throw away nearly half their food ever year, roughly $165 billion annually. We toss every other piece of food we have in our hands. The average American family of four throws away the equivalent of up to $2,275 annually. Just a 15 per cent reduction in losses in the U.S. food supply would save enough to feed 25 million Americans annually. It would also substantially lighten the burden on landfills, according to the National Resources Defense Council, a nonprofit environmental organization. But it’s not as simple as just taking the food we waste and handing it to someone who really needs it. Grocery stores toss unsold fruits and vegetables. Both consumers and restaurants habitually create portions way too large for sensible consumption, resulting in uneaten portions ending up in the trash. Getting the surplus food to the hungry is often impeded by our country’s own safety laws and the sheer task of moving the food safely from potential waste to meals for the hungry.
Jesus said whenever we feed, clothe, house, or care for the needy person among us, we are serving Christ Himself (Matthew 25:3541). And this begins with you and me. Can we commit to waste less and use existing channels to help serve others? People have served each other’s needs for generations. We just have to remember to do it.
God of Abundance, stir in us who have so much to make sure we share with those who have nothing. Amen