Life is complex and difficult for many people much of the time. There are big dramas going on at large and small scales. Whether it is political troubles in Europe, or the ill-health of dear friends, whether it is the pain of family dislocation or the tedium of an election campaign where no-one seems to be saying what I want to hear, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and dismayed.
This week I have been aware of how much difference sharing food can make – it seems a small thing, and it is in many ways, but it has important ripple effects, and is doable, unlike changing the world at large or fixing families or even our own troubles. It is a good practical way of expressing kindness, cultivating an attitude of sharing, taking action rather than doing nothing, and reminding us all that we are not so different from each other. We all, after all, have to eat.
Here are some examples from this week:
- CHO took on the barbeque fundraiser at the last minute at Bunnings (Seaford branch) last weekend after the group that was booked in had to cancel. The membership (and in particular Carly) pulled it all together really quickly, with donations of food, and lots of folk stepping up to be there on the day and cook snags etc. It was a great success and a happy day for those taking part – plus we raised over $800.
- It’s Ramadan again, and my friend Arefa is fasting. I was invited over last week to share the evening meal, even though I hadn’t fasted during the day, and as ever, it was such a delicious and generous spread. Arefa’s cooking is amazing, and her generosity to me and many others in giving and sharing food is a real gift to us all.
- My pal Kathy is a librarian at the DASSA (Drug and Alcohol Service) library which recently moved to a location where the clients of the service also come for treatment and assistance. She has made a practice of having fruit available every day at the library for people to take. She tells me people love it, and it is a great way (and so easy) of showing generosity and solidarity to a group of people who don’t always experience this.
- We had our CHO dinner again this week. This is a monthly get-together with shared food and conviviality. The food is always lovely, with folk bringing-a-plate if they can, or just coming to share if they can’t. It was a wild and wintry night, but still people turned up and we had a really happy time. I particularly love that Jesse comes from the Domestic Violence Service and brings families from the shelter. The mum and kids who came this time had only just arrived at the shelter, and it is so good to be able to show hospitality and share food with folk who are in this situation – and hopefully it is encouraging for them too.
- On Mondays and Wednesdays CHO runs the Food for Freedom project, providing freshly cooked meals to people (mostly women and children) in emergency motel accommodation due to domestic violence or other difficult situations. We made and delivered around 20 meals each day this week. I myself had a client in difficulties and was able to organise for the program to provide a meal to this very large family once per week for 4 weeks – which will make a difference to them.
So, though it is at one level just a small thing, I do think that food is a crucial element in creating a good world, and how we make, eat and share food makes a difference to the culture in ways that are more important than we might think.