Feeding the Hungry
I've been a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society at the local parish since July of 1999. And a major part of what we do is bring food to the poorer families of the parish. Some of the families we'll visit in the next month or so are families that I visited in 1999; and some of them were being visited by Vincentians from the parish for many years before that.
When we go on a visit to one of these neighbors, we might bring 4-6 bags of groceries: pasta, rice, instant mashed potatoes, canned soups, macaroni & cheese, canned beans, fruits and vegetables, boxes of cereal and oatmeal, canned tuna and chicken, frozen hamburger and chicken, bread, etc. We aim to provide at least 4-5 days of meals for the family, but are constained as to what we give by what's available at the Greater Boston Food Bank of which we are members, and what we collect in various food drives at the parish.
Last night we had an information meeting for people who are interested in becoming part of the group. Among the things we told them is that taking on this apostolate is going to be an emotional experience. There will be times when we feel we have made a real difference in people's lives; where we have been empowered by God to go beyond giving a handout and established some real fellowship with the people we visit. There will be other times when we are heartbroken--where our best efforts are unable to help someone, whose situation might even become worse.
But we struggle to maintain our covenant with these poorer neighbors. We continue to visit. And bring the groceries. If we can do more, help one person get their citizenship, help another find work to sustain himself and his family, we are happy to do so. But we have also learned that while it is better to teach a woman to fish than to give her a tuna sandwich, the tuna sandwiches are greatly appreciated by a mom until her catch is sufficient to supply her children's needs.