Each Sunday in May, Wesley will be focusing on the various mission projects currently underway or planned. Our first Mission Moment from May 5 was delivered by Deborah Obalil.
A few sobering statistics about hunger in our state:
- 1 in 6 children in RI live in poverty
- 1 in 7 RI households is “food insecure” meaning they have to choose between buying food and paying the rent or utilities or other basic expenses
- Each month, more than 60,000 Rhode Islanders seek assistance from the RI Food Bank, and 1 in 3 of those served is a child under 18
- Nationally, more than 49 million Americans are at risk of going hungry.
The land of promise and abundance does not apply to all.
So what can we do to address the problem of hunger? On this Sunday when we are focused on the United Methodist Church’s wonderful tradition of an “open table” for communion, when we feed our souls with the promise Jesus made to us represented by bread and wine (or grape juice in our tradition), it seems appropriate to ask what we can do to both physically and spiritually feed the hungry of our community. I was moved by the discussions we had in our “Widening the Circle” sessions to find a way to expand upon Wesley’s past work in this area of collecting food and monetary donations to include active volunteering where we could truly go wherever we are needed and make a difference. I also wanted to find activities where young and old alike could work together to fulfill our mission of making a difference through sharing the love of Jesus Christ.
To that end, I have worked with the RI Food Bank to identify some initial activities to start, and we can build from there. On the afternoon of Saturday, May 11, the RI Food Bank needs hundreds of volunteers throughout the state to help sort and pack the food donations collected as part of the annual Letter Carriers Food Drive, where postal service workers collect food donations left out at houses all across the state and the country. In the spirit of “go wherever we are needed”, I promised a Wesley team of 10 people to the Food Bank and they identified a need at the Elmwood Post Office in Providence, RI. Thanks to the spirit that I know is strong in this church, we will send a team of 11 volunteers. Thank you!
Volunteers for the 11th need to be 14 years or older, so I wanted to be sure to find another opportunity to involve our younger members. Later this month, or possibly in June, we’ll volunteer again at one of the community gardens/farms that provide fresh produce to the RI Food Bank. A variety of healthy food is critical to the Food Bank’s success, and fresh produce is a key piece of that mix. It takes great care and effort to grow produce, as any gardeners in the congregation know, so these community gardens rely on volunteers to be able to provide this important resource. We can be in fellowship with each other, connect to God’s gift of nature that sustains us, and know that our efforts are benefiting those most in need. The gardens are just beginning their growing seasons, so are not prepared yet to schedule volunteers. But as soon as they are, I will let you all know so that once again we can put the love of Wesley UMC following the teachings of Christ to good work in our community.