By Elizabeth Lang
“For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink . . .” – Matthew 25: 35
Ash Wednesday was March 6 and we are now in the period of Lent – a time of preparation, reflection, and repentance. This year JCUMC has identified several mission giving opportunities as part of “The Big Give”, where we are encouraging you to use what you’re giving up for Lent as a way to give to others.
For the first giving opportunity, on March 10 and 17, we invite you to bring food donations to worship and place them in the pantry located behind the Welcome Desk in the Narthex. These donations will be delivered to the Norcross Cooperative Ministry and distributed to those in need. Which of these food items will you bring to answer Christ’s call to feed the hungry?
Soup, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti sauce, pasta, cereal, peanut butter and jelly, canned meat, microwavable foods, and juice
For the curious . . . How did these items land on the Top 10 list? Before you head to the store and load up your shopping cart, look at some of the specific reasons why these items are on the “most wanted” list, not only for the Norcross Coop but for food pantries across the country. First of all, these items are universally liked and easy to prepare. They also present a variety of food options. But what else makes these items more special, say more special than that can of sardines or lima beans hiding in the back of your pantry? Here are some additional reasons the requested items are in such demand:
• Soups that don’t require anything other than a heat source to eat are excellent for those who have limited resources, including those not having a very well-equipped kitchen or those staying in a hotel. There are many places recipients of these donations may be able to heat up these types of meals.
• Many soups provide nutritional value; there are many times when soup might be an entire filling warm meal for someone.
Macaroni and Cheese – Many of us bemoan the fact that our children LOVE the boxed Kraft mac & cheese over the more labor-intensive homemade version. But consider this . . . the boxed version is quick and easy to make so that even many younger children can prepare it. What a blessing this may be, especially for those single-parent households.
Spaghetti Sauce – It’s easy to heat and combine with a package of dry pasta and/or canned meat and frozen veggie for a quick, healthy, and inexpensive meal.
Pasta – Pasta or boxed pasta dinners make good donation items because, in most cases, a little goes a long way. Pasta is also a food that people can prepare along with vegetables, meat, or just on its own.
Cereal – Boxed cereal is expensive for low-income families to purchase. In addition to having a long shelf life, many cereals are fortified with vitamins and include healthy grains. Oatmeal is also in demand, whether instant or regular.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
• Both children and adults like it, and it’s high in protein, making peanut butter one of the most popular items at food banks. Spread it on a piece of bread, add some jelly, and you have an easy meal or snack.
• Since some families deal with peanut allergies, you might also consider donating almond butter.
• Canned chicken and salmon are two of the most useful items you can give to a food bank. They are non-perishable and can be added to many meals for a much-needed protein boost. Although canned tuna is also useful, Norcross Co-op gets “tons” donated; plus, they can purchase tuna from the food bank for only 10 cents a can.
• SPAM, canned ham, and canned beef stew are other non-perishable, high protein items in high demand.
Microwavable foods – Microwavable foods are much appreciated when families are staying in a hotel with no cooking facilities, but access to a microwave.
Juice – 100% pure juice is always needed at food pantries. Juice boxes are often given to families of young children as they are easier to portion.
• Consider donating food with pop-top lids for clients who are homeless or have difficulty opening cans with a can opener.
• Avoid foods packaged in glass. Breakage often happens in the donation bin or during transport.
• Do not donate foods that are past the expiration date.
GOLDEN RULE OF DONATING – Donate food you would like to eat or serve your family. If your pantry was empty, what would you want to find in there so you could prepare a healthy, nutritious meal for your family?
Whatever you give, know that it will be welcome. On Sunday, March 3, we enjoyed a Celebration of Ministries in the Gathering Room where we showcased the many opportunities each of us has to serve our church and our community. Donating to the food pantry this month presents an opportunity for you to serve today and make an immediate impact on others. It’s just one of many ways to demonstrate your faith in action.
For more information about the food drive or Norcross Cooperative Ministry, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.