Posted by: A Part of the Solution | April 9, 2010

Soup Kitchens and Other Giving

On my farm, it doesn’t feel like enough for the farm staff to support ourselves and eat well. It doesn’t feel like enough for us to take care of ourselves and look after the guests at our B&B. Like many people fortunate enough to know how fortunate they are, we understand we must provide not only for ourselves, but share our bounty as far as we are able. Hence our interest in ‘soup kitchens’.

These days, soup kitchens aren’t very soupy. In fact, they very often don’t serve soup at all. So why are they called soup kitchens? Well, it used to be that such places, organized to feed the hungry, would take just about anything they could get their hands on and dump it all into a vat of boiling water. While nourishing, this liquid meal was often not very tasty. But it made the food go farther and helped provide the illusion of the limited foods being more than their constituent parts.

In modern times, soup kitchens try to ensure that the meals they serve are nutritionally balanced. They try to provide menus of foods people recognize with components that complement one another. Soup kitchens attempt to give people dignity through food requiring chewing, forks and knives.

These are little things when measured against hunger, homelessness, substance abuse and mental illness. They are little, but they mean all the more because eating is (hopefully) an act repeated several times each day. And every time a person engages in a normal activity, at a regular frequency, it reinforces stability and a sense of being part of the mainstream–instead of being cut off from the flow of culture and society.

My staff do envision our repositioning out in Pennsylvania as becoming more of a part of the solution. We are delighted to be partnering with Martha’s Table and DC Central Kitchen. We hope our willingness to donate our overage, seconds and gleanings will not only help to put food where it’s most wanted; but we also hope others will consider their ongoing relationship to food and those who don’t have enough.

You’re welcome to donate a CSA share through us to either of these organizations. You’re welcome to donate your time in service at these kitchens–or picking up for them, or dropping off for them. And you’re welcome to commit any larger group of which you are a part to helping out.

Don’t be shy. Get involved. These are tough times. Most of us are living closer to the bone than we were a few years ago. Most of us are doing the best we can with what we have. But most of us have a little time, a little money, a little too much of something that might mean the world to someone who has nothing left at all.

Soup kitchens are a good thing. They’re better than good. They’re the beginning of hope. They’re the beginning of possibility. They’re the beginning of a future.


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