Sunday, November 12, 2006

Manna oh Manna

Just got back from another successful Manna on Main St. lunch in Lansdale. The menu: nutritious and delicious three bean chili, tossed salad, whole fruit, and fun-size candy. Perfect for a damp and chilly day in November. No wonder this is rapidly becoming one of my favorite activities. It combines all my favorite parts of being Italian--food, love, and hospitality!

But it's our guests that remind me this isn't a run-of-the-mill holiday party. Our visitors often look tired, worn out, ragged,or dirty. Their clothes are stitched, and their glasses taped. Sometimes whole families come, the young kids eager to eat up. Today we had a crew from a mentally retarded group home. Every time it's a different crowd, with one common thread--hungry stomachs and hungry hearts.

That's why Manna becomes much more than a hot meal. The open door and open conversation are the nourishment that's needed most. It's a time to rest and put up one's feet, meet new people, and share personal stories, without fear of being turned away or forgotten.

The real travesty, however, is how inexpensive it can be to feed the hungry with balanced, nutritious meals. We fed over 20 people today for about $20, and no one left unsatisfied. That's $1 a person--less than a Starbucks coffee.

My question is, why aren't we feeding more people? Yes, we helped 20 today, but what about the millions left? This is a chance for social justice in action, and we need to act on it.

Gathering around the table is one of human civilization's most revered, dignified, and constant acts of love and community. Providing that opportunity to those who might not have it is the greatest offering we can give. And I intend to keep setting the table until all have a healthy, happy kitchen of their own.

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