Food bank consistency

Food bank consistency

I have been taking folks from a homeless camp to the food bank. It is close enough by bus, but quite a struggle if you’re elderly, homeless, and disabled. Tonya has a severe disability that causes her tremendous pain. Jasmine has a disability that requires a cane. We chat about ending up homeless while working two jobs. We pull up to the food bank and I offer to stand in line and help carry the groceries. Tonya and Jasmine are relieved. They will be able to get more food and it’s nice not to have to ask for assistance. We talk about a group of elderly women who go to food banks, cut in line, and then try to resell food. Seems like a Seinfeld episode—but it’s true! While in line, Tonya and Jasmine talk about how awful it is when Christians speak in tongues and pray for their healing. “This one guy starts babbling about how my leg is going to grow two inches.” I share my experiences with high-octane healing church services. We talk about the mystery of healing and statements like “God’s not sick, so you’re not sick.” We talk about how God’s care for the condition of the heart more than appearances. I tell Tonya that I can see the Spirit of God in her, and that her attitude is a sign of great faith. She chokes up, “Thanks, I didn’t think anyone noticed I knew the Lord.”

We shop for groceries. Canned food is heavy. By the time we’re done, I have four giant bags of groceries and three watermelons. Tonya and Jasmine are giddy. They have enough food for the next week. I make the first trip to my car and come back for the giant watermelons. As I am picking up one of the melons, another woman comes over and grabs one. “Oh, excuse me, that’s my watermelon,” Tonya says graciously. The woman doesn’t respond. Are we being victimized by the older lady food bank mafia? Smiling, the stranger helps me carry the last melon to my car! The food bank community is amazing!

Back at camp, I help carry the food bank booty back to the residents’ tents. Tonya apologizes for the mess and says she is still decorating. It’s maybe the sweetest morning I have ever had. Helping two elderly, homeless women with disabilities go from a tent encampment go to the food bank. “When you enter a town and are received, eat what they set before you, heal anyone who is sick, and tell them, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep’” (Luke 10:8-9,The Message).

Michael Cox

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