A few Saturdays ago, I was finishing icons in the barn while listening to the great line up of NPR programs: Car Talk, You Bet Your Garden, A Chef’s Table and Fresh Air. There was nothing significant on Car Talk, but the other three shows really were packed with thought provoking perspectives on food. Dave Lieberman and Anahad O’Connor, authors of The 10 Things You Need to Eat, were among the interviewees. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, was referenced.
I acquired Food Rules and 10 Things and began my education on nutrition. One weekend, I made three recipes from 10 Things: one with avocados, one with spinach and one with beets. I started feeling better almost right away.
The following Thursday night, several of the men whom we serve told me that our food is the best that is served at any of the sites on any night of the week. A normal person might just take this as an affirmation that he is doing the right thing and continue in the same manner; but my mom didn’t raise me to be normal. I tend to be suspicious of praise and begin to analyze.
If our food is the best, it had better be truly sound and healthy nutrition. We cannot just fill in a gap in the week; the meal ought to be truly beneficial. Better nutrition is not just for our household, but for our brothers and sisters on the street. This responsibility hits even harder, if we are going to take on another night in the week: Tuesdays.
So, it’s time to take it up a notch or two. This may mean that our cost per meal served may exceed $1.92. But it doesn’t need to break the bank, either. The Golden Rule tells us that we need to care for their nutritional needs in the same way that we would have our nutritional needs cared for.
It’s a process or a journey. I’m not talking about becoming a health nut or strict vegetarian or trying to impose strange, unappetizing foods on homeless people. There are simple things that we can do. We can use more whole grains; substitute quinoa or amaranth for some of the rice in the soup. We can use more fresh vegetables and add more greens.
I will share some of my suggestions in this newsletter and we are happy to hear yours in reply.
One of the first Thursdays in Lent, I heard from a Greek priest, a Russian priest and an Antiochian priest that they were each going to join us on the street that evening. I told Bethann and Hilary that at the dinner table. They both looked at me waiting for the punchline.
We did have great fun that night on the street. It was a joy to meet Fr. Chris from Holy Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Elkins Park, and his lovely Presbytera Joanna. Fr. Joseph Toroney & Mat. Cathy and Fr. Noah Bushelli were there. Holy Annunciation is exploring ways to be involved regularly, long term.
This means we have people and resources from two Russian Orthodox churches, one Greek Orthodox church, one Albanian Orthodox church, two Antiochian Orthodox churches and one Roman Catholic church, faithfully involved serving the poor in Jesus’ Name, together. This is a fulfillment of part of the founding vision of The King’s Jubilee. Read Ephesians 4. I get goosebumps.
This Spring, while you are planning and planting your garden, plant one more row than you normally would. When harvest time comes, give some of the firstfruits at the beginning and the overflow at the end, to help feed the homeless.
Through the years, we have learned to be very creative in our use of ingredients. I’m going to try growing quinoa and amaranth. They are beautiful, 4′ to 8′ tall flowers that can grow well in our area.
We can use sweet potatoes, spinach, green beans, squash, beets (with the greens), cabbage, broccoli, carrots, peppers, whatever! Don’t forget the herbs and spices. We go through a lot of them: garlic, basil, sage, lovage, parsley, celery leaves, cilantro.
This will give added purpose to your gardening. Gardening is a great way to include the whole family in important lessons of sowing & reaping, faithfulness in service and God’s marvelous provision. If everybody learned these lessons by gardening or farming, we would need far fewer prisons and perhaps no homeless shelters.
Get your hands in some dirt. Get rooted in life!
For over twenty years I have been giving the same instructions to those who want to make sandwiches. It goes like this: Make the sandwiches like you would like to eat them, except no mayonnaise, (because of the eggs going bad). Put the sandwiches in individual baggies; stack them back into the loaf bag and write on the bag what kind of sandwiches they are. Then I would say, “But use white bread, because the guys don’t understand whole grain breads.”
As confused as Bob Dylan may be about any number of things, he is right about this: “The times they are a changing!” Whole grain breads are now understood and preferred by a growing portion of our customers. So, if you can afford it, and that is how you like your sandwiches, make them with whole grain breads, whenever possible.
Fruit has always been a luxury item on our menu, but it is so beneficial in so many ways. The fiber, the vitamins, the portability of fresh fruit. A high percentage of our clientele are diabetic, so whole grains and naturally sweet treats are to be preferred over simple carbohydrates and refined sugars.
Apples are not a good choice, unless they are applesauce, because our people do not have good teeth. Fruit salad is welcome. Bananas, oranges, grapes, peaches, cherries, whatever is in season. Thanks!
The incredible edible egg! This Pascha, have as much fun as you want boiling and dying eggs without worrying about who is going to eat all of them, before they turn south. Save the cartons. Put them back into the cartons and get them to someone who is going to serve the homeless on a Thursday night, so we can give them away. They fit nicely in a pocket and provide a healthy snack later or a breakfast the next day for someone.
It doesn’t even have to be Pascha for you to do this. Even if it is, you don’t need to color them. Hardboiled eggs are welcome any time. Just make sure that you cook them enough in advance, so that they are thoroughly chilled before you give them to us.
We have had such good times the last couple of years at our TKJ picnics, that we are going to try it again. This year, Dormition falls on a Sunday, so we’ll try that. That’s Sunday, August 15, at our house in Souderton, after Liturgy, of course. It’s potluck. At least two grills will be running. If anyone else wants to bring another, there’s room.
Horseshoes, badminton, bocce ball, if any one can find the jack ball. Bring lawn chairs and squirtguns if you want. Tish, can you make brownies?
Something else we have done the last two years is a daylily sale. I am not announcing another daylily and hosta sale.
Now I want you to let those plants do their work to remind you all through the warmer half of the year to remember the poor and homeless in your flowerbeds, in your gardens, in your kitchens, in your prayers and in your pockets and purses.
I am so excited to see the pussy willows fluffing, the daffodils and crocuses blooming and the daylilies poking up through the soil. God loves us so much! He made such delights for all of us to enjoy.
Summer is the busiest time for The King’s Jubilee. Fewer shelters are serving meals. More people are comfortable on the street. Our customer numbers go up. Some volunteers take vacations. Giving tends to go down during the Summer.
On the other hand, this is the easiest time to help serve. School schedules don’t interfere with sandwich making or coming along to serve. It is light out when we serve. It is considerably warmer, with hardly any chance of ice or snow.
Please join us this Spring and Summer. Put it on your calendar as a priority. Let’s help give hunger a vacation.
The plan is to start serving one Tuesday night per month, in addition to Thursdays, starting in May. We are stepping out in faith here. A few volunteers have said they can help or switch to Tuesdays. Financial support has not increased to cover the additional meat and supplies needed, however. I am not really worried. I have found in my life that God’s provision is like his forgiveness, like water in a pipe.
Jesus teaches that if we do not forgive men their sins, we will not be forgiven, but the instant we do, we are forgiven. In fact, we do not even have the power to forgive sins. It is only God’s forgiveness moving through us that allows us to see our brother as forgiven, as we are forgiven.
It’s like the mystery (at least to me) of incompressible water in a pipe. when you turn the spigot which water moves first? The first drop in the sink, the one right behind it that pushed it or the water at the top of the water tower that determined the pressure and speed? It all moves at once. Amazing!
That is how I have seen God provide for this ministry through the years. There is never a surplus, but there has always been enough. There would be no reason for God to supply money and resources to sit around gathering dust and mold. If we have a good use for it in Jesus’s Name, God supplies.
Sometimes he uses people who don’t even believe in Him to do it. It’s such fun to witness! But it’s even more fun for you if you can be a willing conduit for God’s provision.
May God richly bless you as you bless the poor in Jesus’ Name.