I hope all is well with you.
I am sending the midweek early this week. Later today I will fly off to Washington DC for a United Methodist Seminar, Scarcity in Abundance: Hunger in the United States.
As I packed and prepared for the seminar, I have been thinking about my own experiences with hunger. I don’t think I have personally experienced hunger, other than the “Mom, what’s for supper?” variety. Mom always had an answer and my hunger was more impatience than lack of food. I have never lived in a household where there was not enough food or any worry about where our next meal was coming from. My mother prepared supper each night, good Iowa fare of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. My family sat down and ate supper together. There was always fruit in my house, oranges, grapes, apples. And my mother was famous for her cookies. The cookie jar was rarely empty. Food and family structures and communities have changed. I realize now how fortunate I was.
My experience with hunger has come through the stories of others.
When Dave and I lived in the married student housing at the University of Iowa, a little girl, five or six years old, roamed the housing complex. She would sometimes knock on doors and ask to look in refrigerators. She never asked for food. She just wanted to see what was in the fridge. One of our neighbors, a mother herself, had a chat with the little girl. The little girl confessed that her fridge was empty and her mother had told her that she was not to ask the neighbors for food. My quick-witted neighbor asked the little girl if she was telling the truth. The little girl said yes. My neighbor announced that in their house when someone told the truth, they always celebrated. And so they celebrated the little girl’s truth-telling, with a sandwich and a glass of milk and an apple. I am not sure about the logic, but that eased her hunger for a day.
When I was teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, two of my students had come to the US as children with their mother fleeing the violence of Cambodia. They slept during the day and ran through the jungle at night. They were often hungry and when there was no food, their mother gave them dirt to eat. She worried about what would happen to their stomachs if they were ever completely empty. I wondered if I could ever feed my children dirt.
A Des Moines schoolteacher told me about a third-grade student who began sitting under his desk and crying during the day. Finally, he shared that there was no food in his home. He and his siblings were getting their meals at school. His mother did not have any food and he was worried about her. The school helped the family.
These stories are horrifying. They also carry a sense of shame. Is there shame in being hungry? They are also all stories of children. I think children are the most vulnerable when it comes to hunger. Perhaps adults don’t talk about their hunger.
I also wonder about nutrition. Much of what we digest is not really food. It doesn’t really offer nutrition, particularly nutrition for young growing bodies.
Here at WDMUMC, we are involved in a number of food ministries. As far as I can tell no one planned this. It seems to be the work of the Holy Spirit. Our Little Food Pantry, the food we provide through our Wednesday Night Live program, Meals from the Heartland, and more provide emergency food for those in need. We are learning more and more that one of the causes of hunger in our local community is the lack of affordable housing. If a family’s income is absorbed in paying rent, there may not be enough money left over for food. As we work with Habitat to provide affordable housing, we are also addressing hunger needs.
Methodist Churches all across the country are in the feeding business. Methodists provide thousands of meals every week to those in need. Is there a way to help people gain greater food security? I hope to find that out this week.
Why do we care? That’s simple. Because Jesus did.
John Wesley said, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” Let that be our goal.
I will be back on Sunday. See you then!
Pastor Cindy Hickman
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave
West Des Moines Iowa 50265
This week at WDMUMC:
Wednesday Night Live Kickoff Bash! This Wednesday we are starting our programming year with a party! Supper begins at 5:30 and lots of fun follows! See you there!
Block Party! Sunday night from 4-7 we are inviting the neighborhood to a block party! Food and fun!
Charge Conference! Our District Superintendent Heecheon Jeon will be leading a charge conference on September 13 at 6:30. At the charge conference, we will vote on whether to divest of the houses the church owns. Everyone is invited to attend. Members will vote on the decision.
And we begin a new sermon series, Juggling! We are busy people. How do we juggle all the demands we face? In September in this three-week sermons series, we will talk about priorities and time and faithful living. Read Romans 12 to prepare for Sunday!
Have a great week!