If you've been reading my blog for at least a year, you might recall that I wrote a lot about food last summer. In one post, I complained about an email I received requesting donations for a food pantry -- donations of food-like substances, such as Jell-o, which have absolutely no nutrition in them. I spent a lot of months thinking about that problem, and in January, I presented an idea to my church. Would anyone be interested in helping to create a garden for the purpose of donating fresh produce to a shelter, soup kitchen, or food pantry? The response was an overwhelming yes!
People gave of their time, money, seeds, equipment, and enthusiasm. In April, we dedicated our garden space and built six raised beds. Then in May, we planted. For the past few weeks, we have been harvesting cucumbers, green onions, squash, beets, and green peppers to donate to Morningstar Mission, a homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Joliet, IL. Soon, our 24 tomato plants will start to ripen hundreds of pounds of tomatoes.
Last Friday, seven of us visited Morningstar to learn more about their needs and how we can help them with our garden. It was inspiring and educational, and I realized that they are grateful for every single cucumber or tomato we donate. They serve 20 meals a week -- breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Saturday, and breakfast and dinner on Sunday. Most meals average 150 to 200 guests, but it has hit 300. Jackie Kinney, who gave us the tour, said that three years ago, their average meal served only about 75, but the downturn in the economy has caused a huge increase in demand. It's a beautiful facility funded almost entirely with private donations. They do so much to help their guests rise up out of poverty and live better lives.
There is so much that I want to do, but I'm not rich. Still, I have gifts that can be shared. One of the lessons that I have to continually relearn is that just because I can't do everything does not mean that I shouldn't do whatever I can. Right now, our little garden and our handful of volunteers can provide fresh vegetables for people who need them, and that's a good thing.