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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Abundance (06/08/06)

TITLE: Garbage In, Garbage Out
By Al Boyce
06/14/06


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I'm just a garbage man.

There's no other way to look at it. I pick up things destined for the dumpster and bring them to throw-away people.

It saves the homeless a trip to the dumpster, and postpones by a second or two the time when all landfills will run out of room.

In my experience, the average grocery store throws away 1.5 shopping carts worth of food every day just from the deli department. A lot of it is bread, but there are decorated birthday cakes as well as sandwiches, whole roasted chickens, cookies, doughnuts, a smattering of sushi.

This food is headed for the landfill because it has today's date stamped above the bar code. So, at 9 a.m. today, an 8-piece basket of fried chicken goes from $3.99 to -- FREE. That birthday cake with the $6.99 on it? Let you have it for nothing.

From one store, on one day, you can probably feed 10 people, maybe 20 if you don't worry too much about the food pyramid.

There are about 50,000 grocery stores in the United States, not counting the far greater number of convenience stores. The United Kingdom has another 6,500. I know the logistics are daunting, but my calculator says you could feed 1.1 million people a day on the garbage from those stores.

An estimated 815 million people are undernourished, worldwide. About 15 million deaths each year could be prevented with proper nutrition.

A friend of mine confided in me last week that he had spent $100 on food for one guy who had just been released from prison.

"I can't keep that up," he said. "I don't have the resources."

I asked him whether there was a grocery store near his home. I told him about the American law that waives liability for stores that give outdated food to charity.*

"What if you could get $100 worth of food every day for free?" I asked.

There is such an abundance of food. In fact, God has provided an abundance of everything we need. What is lacking are the hands and hearts to spread His generous blessings around.

Jesus' disciples had to be taught that lesson, even after seeing Christ feed 5,000 people from a few loaves and fishes.

They came upon a Canaanite woman (Matthew 15:22-28) who asked Jesus to help her demon-possessed daughter. The disciples urged Jesus to send her away, for she was not one of the lost sheep of Israel.

"It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs," Jesus said as his disciples looked on.

"Yes, Lord," she said, "but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters' table."

Then Jesus answered, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

What was her great faith? She believed more strongly in the crumbs that might fall from the master's table than the discples believed in miracles received from His very hands! She considered the source so mighty that even the leftovers were sufficient to her needs.

We live in a throw-away society. What if we found ways to glean leftovers not only from large grocery stores but from convenience stores, from restaurants, from meat packing plants?

But what do I know?

I'm just a garbage man.

------------------

*Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.
http://www.usda.gov/news/pubs/gleaning/appc.htm


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This article has been read 1340 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/15/06
Well-written with a good point! I'll have to pray about what this means for me. :-)
Lynda Lee Schab 06/16/06
Loved the voice of the garbage man - how clever! Who better than to see that abundance being wasted day after day? I also liked the devotional slant. Great message for all of us. Thanks for posting!
Melanie Kerr 06/17/06
I worked one summer with a charity called Mission Ablaze in South Africa - they did exactly that - collected the left over stuff from supermarkets and supplied orphanages in black townships with food they could use to make stews and broths. It is very challenging!
Suzanne R06/17/06
I hope this gets published somewhere ... it is excellent. My church used to distribute bread from a local bakery to poor families ... this would have been perfect in the monthly large bulletin we had, followed by the details of how to join the team that distributes the bread. I'm sure other churches do similar things.
Venice Kichura06/18/06
Great food for thought.
This would make an excellent devotional.
Lynda Schultz 06/19/06
We don't think of our own personal waste in such global terms - but we certainly should. There is a lot to think about here. Good job.
Lori Othouse 06/19/06
This is excellent! Great beginning and ending. It hurts to think of all the waste and need occuring simultaneously. This provides a challenge both personally and on a larger scale. Great job!
Jan Ross06/21/06
On the way home from church years ago, we would find people we knew behind the local IGA, "dumpster diving". These weren't poor people, but people who then took that food, made soups and stews and such, set up "camp" under the bridge where the homeless and castaways lived, and embraced them with love. Occasionally one or two of the homeless would be at church and testify that if it wasn't for these people, they would have lost all hope. I, too, hope it gets published somewhere. Great article!
Debbie OConnor06/21/06
Awesome.
Dr. Sharon Schuetz06/22/06
Powerful stuff. Some really good points here.