Food and poetry can be very personal.
And very political.
an excerpt from Mary Oliver’s To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
Someday I am going to ask my friend Paulus,
the dancer, the potter,
to make me a begging bowl
which I believe my soul needs.
And if I come to you,
to the door of your comfortable house
with unwashed clothes and unclean fingernails,
will you put something into it?
I would like to take this chance.
I would like to give you this chance.
I have been thinking about how we get fed.
Poetry feeds your soul, but we need food to live.
And we need potlucks to gather us round to offer what a meal eaten alone cannot give.
I live in a community that gathers for potlucks often. Our schools use potlucks as fundraisers or the core of celebrations for graduations or end-of-year picnics. Last night, several hundred people brought platters of entrees, appetizers, and loads of cakes to a potluck honoring the life of our friend Rupert, a 21-year-old young man, wild and beautiful, who died last week in a canoe accident on the Housatonic River. We respond to grief with food, plates of warm food are delivered at your doorstep by neighbors who just seem to know the right moment to deliver. My friends are using MealTrain as an organizing platform for meals to be lovingly delivered to Rupert’s family for the next month. As the last of the hot dogs were served, the cakes enjoyed, the fire fighters, who were there to keep the bonfire under control and did so with grace, were served heaping plates of that food. The meal we all shared contained love, forgiveness, comfort and hope.
In the blogosphere, today is an auspicious day. Food bloggers all over the US are posting about hunger with 4.8.13 Food Bloggers Against Hunger. You all know I am not a food blogger though I do post recipes once in awhile. I have some friends who are food bloggers; excellent ones and I want you to know what they are up to day.
Do you realize that millions of Americans who take part in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 or $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget? Additionally, the government subsidizes products like soybeans, wheat, and corn instead of fresh produce, so the most affordable food does not have the most nutritional value. Creating a meal on such a limited budget narrows your options. This makes me think of soup. I know the value of a pot of soup from a nutrition level and a soul level.
While I was in Penland, North Carolina last month, I met John Hartam and Lisa Blackburn who founded The Empty Bowl Project. They are artists responding to the hunger crisis and the need for a better distribution of resources in our county and in the world. We have plenty of food; it is really a matter of availability and delivery. Here is how John describes the project:
“The basic premise is simple: Potters and other craftspeople, educators and others work with the community to create handcrafted bowls. Guests are invited to a simple meal of soup and bread. In exchange for a cash donation, guests are asked to keep a bowl as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world. The money raised is donated to an organization working to end hunger and food insecurity.”
John worked with us on the bowls we made for the Empty Bowl Project. He says the power of this project is that it brings the community together.
Great Barrington’s People’s Pantry is one place in Berkshire County where community and food come together. I worked there for several years. Our local CSA (community supported agriculture) Indian Line Farm donates boxes of freshly harvested food to the pantry. The pantry patrons receive the fresh herbs and vegetables to create meals that are hard to make with canned or dry goods. Everyone feels the vitality of the fresh food in the pantry, the produce smells good and looks beautiful. Here is a link to Share the Bounty, the program that connects farms to families in need in Berkshire County.
Charity is not enough. The only way for hunger to be eliminated in America is if policies change, so it’s important we make our voices heard. How about you? Have you ever been hungry and without resource? Would you like to learn more?
Here is where you can learn more about The Empty Bowl Project.
Here is where you can send a letter to Congress to ask them to support anti-hunger legislation. This will take you 30 seconds. The more letters we submit, the better.
And cherish the next moment you have to share a meal with someone who is hungry. Like Mary Oliver’s begging bowl, let your plenty nourish someone else’s need, whether with soup, poetry or your sweet company.
Thanks to everyone across the web bringing attention to this very important issue.