Sunday, March 23, 2008

Food Stamp Challenge: Who is My Neighbor?

Welcome to the Belmont UMC Food Stamp Challenge blog! This is a place for you to learn about the Food Stamp Challenge, read stories of participants, and share your thoughts about the experience.

So, what is the Food Stamp Challenge?

Well, we are blessed to live in a country with enough food for all. The Food Stamp Challenge seeks to help us be aware of the struggles for food that some of our neighbors have, even in the midst of our world’s bounty.

Each month about 25 million people in the United States participate in the nation’s Food Stamp Program. On average, the participants receive $21 per week ($1 per meal) for each person in their household to eat. As a result, millions of people in our nation—some who are our neighbors right here in Nashville—find it difficult to eat enough food each day and nearly impossible to add healthy choices into their diets.

Belmont’s Good Neighbors ministry invites you to stand in solidarity with our hungry neighbors through the Belmont Food Stamp Challenge. You can join the challenge at any time during Lent.

How You Can Participate:

1. Prayer: Please remember those who are hungry in your daily prayers.
2. $21 Food Stamp Challenge: Live for at least one week of Lent ( or the entire Lenten season Feb. 6- March 23) on the national average Food Stamp allotment of $21 per person in your household per week.
3. WNAB: Fellowship with other Belmonters on Wednesday nights and choose to eat the $1 meal option instead of the regular meal (write $1 next to your reservation, please). Also plan to attend special WNAB sessions on the Food Stamp Challenge and homelessness and poverty in Nashville Feb. 13, Feb. 27 and March 5.
4. Offering: Save the money that you would have spent for your family each week you participate, and offer it as an Easter gift to a feeding program of choice (a list of a few programs are available on the sidebar). Even if you are not doing the $21/week challenge, you can save a designated amount each week of Lent so that you can donate to a program of choice.

We hope you'll visit the blog often and leave comments about your experience!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reflection: Ciona Rouse

Holy Week is approaching. With the whirlwind of my travel schedule, I almost feel like Ash Wednesday was just a few days ago. How on earth can it be that we're already approaching Palm Sunday and that beautiful entry into Jerusalem?

Then my taste buds remind me that it's been forever since I've eaten at Jackson's or Fido. I haven't had a girls' night at Rumours or been able to invite my friends over for a fun, festive meal that we make at home. They remind me that it has been many long weeks of beans, rice, spaghetti, potatoes and PB&J . . . My taste buds are ready for the Resurrection!

When I made French fries the other day, my roommate Amanda was astounded. She thought fries came from Wendy's or from a frozen bag named OreIda. She was amazed when I literally sliced a potato, seasoned the strips and heated oil to make real French fries. And they were delicious! Fresh, tasty and seasoned to my liking.

We are so far removed from our food the more money we spend. Someone else makes it for us or packages it for us. It takes more time (and we're certainly tired of our kitchen and dishes right now), but there's something beautiful about having to make your own meal.

What isn't beautiful, however, is that when we live on such little money, we are not able to always make healthy meals. The impoverished in our country and around the world can't always appreciate the beauty of the basics when they are not eating healthy enough for survival.

I believe even more in the beauty of community gardens after this experience. When I grew tomatoes last year, I made pizza and spaghetti sauces from scratch. It was tasty, and it felt good to use fresh basil and tomatoes from my potted garden. My salads were delicious! I chose healthier ways to eat with my tiny garden. My pot was easily accessible, and my roommate at the time said, "Ciona, aren't you afraid someone's going to come and steal your tomatoes?" I hope that someone who needs it will "steal" them . . .

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Reflection: Mollie Henry

Closing in on week #5! It's a relief to have a light at the end of the tunnel. Sobering to know others do not. To date our best lessons have been:

a. Community is a lifeline, and God means for us to live in community.
b. Food is a blessing and world of complex, beautiful human creations.
c. After trying to eat nutritiously on $1/meal for almost 5 weeks, I can totally understand someone wanting to blow the budget on Doritos. I will judge less.