Feeding others, especially children, the elderly, the wounded or disabled: what other activity can make us feel as much in service to our family or community than that? And yet, where I live in the borderlands of the United States and Mexico, at least a third of my neighbors are food insecure.
As economic woes from the sub-prime mortgage scandal and Great Recession spiked in 2009, estimates of the food insecure among my neighbors in Tucson began to rise 4% a year, ultimately affecting over 156,000 individuals. And yet, only a third of those whose incomes qualified them for food relief were legally eligible for federal assistance. Some did not want their names to be known to government agencies, because they or other members in their household remained undocumented in the face of immigration law. So who did they turn to? Their extended families, their churches, and the food banks that asked no questions.
Whether we are engaged in organized religion or not, churches, mosques and synagogues serve as the safety net for many of the poor and disenfranchised who live all around us. Most soup kitchens—faith-based or not—never reject anyone from another faith, race, gender or language group. They restore the concept of communion to its original meaning—an open table with a place for everyone. That’s right: no questions asked, only prayers offered.
Brother Coyote, OEF