March is Minnesota FoodShare month, a time for Minnesotans to focus on the problem of hunger in our state. That can be difficult to do, however, when we see few signs of hunger around us. When I think of "hunger," I think of the distended bellies of children in far-off lands, or of sallow-eyed panhandlers in the inner city. I simply do not see signs of hunger in south Washington County, with its tidy neighborhoods. But that doesn't mean that hunger is absent from our communities. We all know that the bad economy has shaken job security, and with increased unemployment has come increased hunger. There may be somebody in your workplace, or sitting next to you at school who is wondering where they will get their next meal.
Why should we care? After all, even if we can put dinner on the table tonight, money is tight. Why should we spend our hard-earned cash to feed someone we don't know? Those of you who are Christian should be familiar with Jesus' words: "I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink." By this he meant that by feeding the hungry we are, in fact, feeding Christ himself. We are serving our Lord by serving the most destitute among us. Jesus focused a majority of his ministry on people in need, and he taught his followers to do the same. That means that, more than 2,000 years after his death, Christians are called to care for their struggling neighbors.
Of course, Christians are not the only ones mandated to care for the poor. Every major religion encourages its followers to reach out to people in need in one way or another. Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. all call upon their adherents to feed the hungry. As people of faith, we are taught that the lives of our fellow human beings are deeply important and worth saving. Even if you are a person of no faith, I hope that you will participate in Minnesota FoodShare month simply because you care about humanity.
Get involved by donating to your local food shelf, volunteering at a soup kitchen and praying for our hungry neighbors. We are all in this life together.
Rev. Désirée Hartson Gold serves at Cottage Grove United Church of Christ.