Monday, September 12, 2011

Interfaith service and food bank needs.

Lauren and I are not religiously Midwestern; we are curious about other cultures and their belief structures. Having no solid foundations of my own, I respect the differences and am fascinated by the misunderstandings. Lauren indulges me because she loves me. In the process of our inquiries, we learn about ourselves and grow.

Yesterday we went to an interfaith service in Indianapolis. It was hosted in the local food bank warehouse. I wanted to go because I wanted to donate some time and help the food bank. Gleaners operates almost entirely on volunteers and they can use the help.

I saw the “interfaith service” pamphlet then, but I never imagined a full length, hour long, prayers and songs. The whole thing is pretty cool. We heard different faiths speak their peace with 9/11 and the Tibetan monk’s chant blew me away. He was the last to address the crowd and he transported me back to my childhood. I was deeply entranced and Lauren cried, she cries at a lot of emotional things.

Afterward, Lauren and I spent a hour sorting out the donated food in the warehouse. Our job was to make sure food that leaves the food bank is sufficiently qualified "within date" and are not too damaged. We regret to have to toss certain items for "best by" dates and we were shocked to learn some companies rather not have their food donated. I guess they wish to avoid liability issues, but what a waste.  

Nostalgia and complaints aside, hunger is a real issue worldwide. Locally, it is astonishing to learn how many are affected.

“More people die each year from hunger and related diseases than from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined . . . one in four children around the globe are underweight . . . likely to die from infectious diseases . . . their long term physical growth and ability to learn is compromised . . . .

While the prevalence of poverty dropped by 20 percent worldwide in the 1990s, the number of hungry people actually grew by 18 million in the second half of 1990s, so the situation is getting worse, not better for those who don’t get enough to eat . . . .

The problem does not lie in food availability: the world has produced more than enough food to feed itself since the 1960s. Just one week’s worth of the subsidies that rich countries pay their own farmers would meet poor countries’ food aid needs for a full year. Worse still, great stockpiles of food lay idle – costing millions of dollars for storage and disposal if they rot – while hundreds of millions of people go hungry.

They’re not just homeless people, they include the elderly, mentally ill, single parent households and children. According to [Gleaners] food bank, there are 738,000 people right here in Indiana that regularly don’t get enough to eat.” 

The Economic Impact of Hunger, James T. Morris, Executive Director, Indianapolis Economic Club, 9 February 2004

. . . each day around the world 16,000 children [from around the world] die of hunger and related causes and here at home 18,000 are frequently hungry in Indianapolis. 

Interfaith Hunger Initiative 

WE had fun yesterday and we promise to come back to Gleaners and help more often. Our 9/11 was well spent.

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