Your Serve

As a mom of three, I’ve managed to rustle up hundreds of meals for my family over the past few decades. No, I didn’t start out at as a stellar chef, but over time a few tricks of the trade have tipped my way.

Nevertheless, who hasn’t run out of dinner ideas occasionally, or resorted to repetition that leaves one’s demanding “customers” begging for greater variety and menu inspiration?

Guilty. Despite owning nearly three dozen cookbooks, and now having the entire Internet at my fingertips for recipe referral, there are nights I have no immediate answer to this familiar question: “Mom, what’s for supper?”

Luckily, there’s almost always something lurking in our freezer, or tucked towards the back of a pantry shelf, that with a touch of imagination and light massaging makes its way to our table without too much difficulty–even if the selection isn’t everyone’s first choice.

We fail to daily contemplate what a luxury it is to complain about WHAT’s on our plate; indeed, there are people, in our own community and around the world, who would love to have that problem and instead are struggling to buy food of whatever kind in adequate quantities to nourish themselves and their families.

Recognizing that food security is a greater problem than many realize, caring people in Worthington and beyond have taken steps to alleviate the hunger that is experienced by those around us. A dedicated committee, stemming from the Worthington Area Christian Ministerial Association, organized its second “Feed My Starving Children” food pack last spring. Meals packaged at that event were sent to Third World countries where hunger and food insecurity are prevalent.

More recently–as in last Tuesday–another food pack event took place, drawing 420 volunteers who spent a minimum of two hours each to ultimately package 100,000 nutritious meals (in varieties such as rice and beans, oatmeal and macaroni and cheese) that will all stay in the region to help people whose food issues extend beyond simply “What’s for supper?” to “Is there anything at all to eat?”

The local “Better Together,” as the program is titled, was coordinated by Pastor Jeanette McCormick of Worthington’s First Lutheran Church, with support from that church’s synod and many other sponsors and pairs of hands. American Reformed Church offered its large multi-purpose space as packing headquarters, providing a comfortable, air conditioned workspace on an otherwise steamy day.

At the table where my teenage son and I worked, the tasks of measuring, weighing, packaging and sealing nutritionally enhanced macaroni-and-cheese meals were shared with an unlikely assortment of people, including a Lutheran bishop, a bank executive, an engineer, a quiet but energetic 12-year-old girl, a school teacher and several enthusiastic retirees. Conversation during our two-hour shift covered a variety of topics, ranging from child-rearing to careers to colleges to childhood friends to politics. (Yes, we went there.)

But using our hands to work toward a common goal softened every aspect of our words and tasks, making the eventually repetitive jobs seem less taxing and any differences among us insignificant. We all wore unbecoming hairnets and plastic gloves; our mutually unattractive attire further served to erase whatever might have separated us and proved to be a unifying factor.

Several area food shelves (which provide valuable ongoing services) and Prairie Elementary will distribute the Better Together meals to qualifying families and individuals, ensuring that kids needn’t go hungry on long weekends and during school vacations.  A lengthy list of churches, teams and businesses contributed workers, the ranks of which included volunteers from Worthington’s diverse populations.

Better Together’s organizers took positive steps to meet a real need in our region, and they deserve credit for their initiative. Because, on any day of the week, striving to figure out WHAT to serve for supper is vastly preferable to having nothing at all.