Being Mindful of Waste and Those in Need

Last night my sister and I were chatting on Facebook. The discussion started because of a link she posted to a co-op type farm in Tennessee where people buy a “share” of the farm season in the spring, and then they get a box of produce every week throughout the summer and until October when the season ends. The idea was to get people to eat locally, as well as to provide healthy organic foods for those who participated. This system also helped to sustain small farmers who otherwise might not have the capital to plant in the spring and await the harvest.

I had commented on her post that my only problem with this was that I didn’t see green beans on their list of produce, and I gotta have my green beans in the summer. Also, there were an awful lot of greens on their list, and I’m not a big fan of greens. The idea of eating cooked collard greens kind of makes my stomach turn.

As we chatted we both agreed that we are quite picky about not only our produce but everything we eat. It could be in part because when we were kids we had a huge garden in our backyard and that is where a lot of the vegetables we ate came from. We like fresh, and even the tiniest bit of rust on lettuce will cause us both to throw it away. I am actually embarrassed by the amount of produce I throw away because it just doesn’t quite live up to my standards of perfectly fresh produce.

So why am I telling you this embarrassing fact about myself? Why am I confessing that I am super picky, sometimes (often?) to the point of being wasteful?

I am writing this because as we chatted the discussion turned to those who have little or nothing to eat, and how happy they would be to have what we throw out. I am writing this because I want to change my habits and pickiness, and be more mindful of how blessed I am to not ever have been in a position of being truly hungry and not knowing where my next meal would come from.

I am reminded again of the words of Jesus:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . .  I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.
Matthew 25:35-36, 40 (NIV).

I’ve posted a few posts lately with this passage in mind, conveniently avoiding the next part of this parable of the King. This being the positive side of the equation, I suppose it is good that this be our main focus. But I think we avoid the next part of the parable at our peril.

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me’. . . . ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Matthew 25:41-43, 45 (NIV).

As I was writing this, my son asked what I was writing about. I said, “About wasting food and all the people who would love to have the grapes we throw out because there is one moldy grape in the bunch.” Sounds random, I know, but just last night he was going to eat some grapes until he saw there was a moldy one so he decided not to. His response to me just now was, “Then package it up and send it to them.” This reminded me of when I was a kid and didn’t want to eat something, my parents would say to eat it because there were starving kids in China who would love to have it. My response was the same as my son’s.

I know packaging up what we don’t intend to eat is not practical, but caring about the homeless in our own city or the starving kids in China or Africa can still lead us to action. We can be less wasteful, but that isn’t enough. If that is all we did we would still be one of those who did nothing “for the least of these.” But being less wasteful does leave us with more disposable income that we can use to donate to organizations that have distribution systems in place to feed the hungry. Or, as my sister did just last week, we can put together sack lunches and deliver them to the homeless in our own city. We can carry a stash of gift cards to local fast food restaurants and hand them out to the homeless who stand on street corners or freeway on ramps asking for help.

So what are you doing for the least of these brothers of the King? What am I doing for them? It’s an important question we all need to ask ourselves. Our world and our eternity depend upon the answer.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 (NIV).

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10 Comments

Filed under Faith, Family, Jesus, Life, Service

10 responses to “Being Mindful of Waste and Those in Need

  1. Ann

    Thank you, Linda.

    This hits close to my heart.

    We are our brothers’ keepers. We can’t “change the world” but we can make a difference one person at a time.

    Blessings and thanks,,
    ann

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  2. Thanks for the idea of a fast food voucher. As one who never shops at a fast food place that thought had never occurred to me. I didn’t know such a thing existed. (Maybe it doesn’t here in Aus. I’ll have to make enquiries)

    I have struck up a conversation with lonely, depressed looking women in the shopping centre and invited them to share a coffee and slice with me in a nearby cafe but this is a way of helping others who couldn’t be reached that way. Thanks.

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    • Angela, Here in the U.S. we can get a gift card for just about anything! Fast food, grocery stores, bookstores, pretty much anything you want to get a gift card for. I like your personal approach – I’ll bet you’ve helped a lot of women by your kindness. Peace, Linda

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  3. Thanks for this post. There’s a lot to think about.

    I’m guilty too.

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  4. Thank you so much, Linda, for talking about this and raising our awareness. I have tons compared to others. Sometimes our checking account is low and I have like $40 to get groceries with. God has helped me so much, to just get what I NEED for my family. It’s amazing how He covers me during the lean times. And it helps me see that there is so much that I don’t need and may waste when I have more money and get all sorts of things.
    More importantly . . .I didn’t open an envelope from the Peoria Rescue Ministries just today. It helps those in need in a nearby city. I’m going to open it and send something to help today . . .because He had you write this. 🙂
    God bless you and how you stay open to Him each day!

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    • Deb, Bless you for allowing this post to spur you into action, not just thought! I know there are many times I spend on things I want but don’t need. Today, shortly after writing this post, is a perfect example. My son and I went to the Christian bookstore to get a Bible cover for him to be able to take his Bible on a youth retreat this next week. While there, I found a Bible cover with the names of Jesus and an Apologetics Study Bible that I decided I really wanted, so I bought it. I do not need another Bible, though this one does have a ton of great articles in it and at least it was on sale. I also bought a Bible that will be sent to someone in the navy who is serving abroad, so I felt a little better. But I probably could have done more good with that money some other way. But I shall endeavor to make good use of it for research for future blog posts. 🙂 Peace, Linda

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  5. Hi Linda! I live in Sydney in Australia and do voluntary work at Childfund an overseas humanitarian aid organisation. One part of my job is to edit the profiles of some of the children to make them ready for uptake by sponsors. I am totally amazed about how large families in Cambodia for example have to live on only US$200 per year! I am not rich by any means but it is truly humbling to read about the struggle to survive so many of these families have. It makes me think twice about how I load up my supermarket trolly when I think that some families do not have enough food to eat. I am guilty of wasting food>>>bread that I think is too stale etc, throwing out large quantities of food that I just didn’t get around to eat. It is a good wake-up call for me. All the best! Good job!

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    • Kay, Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It truly is amazing what some people in the world live on. Many eat what’s available even if it’s the same thing day after day, and nothing goes to waste. I’m trying to make some changes in my own wastefulness, but old habits are hard to break. Peace, Linda

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