Over the last few years we have seen the rise of foodbanks and the increase of people using them. Some of this is due to cuts by the current UK government, other reasons includes the economy not doing well in recent years with people losing jobs, etc as well as the cost of living going up. This isn’t unique to just the UK but affects people all over the world. All of this and more has created the scenario for the perfect storm.
I originally meant to write this blog some time ago but didn’t write it, thinking that food banks are yesterday’s news.
…churches should not be celebrating when they open new food banks but protesting about the fact that they need to do so.
I could not agree more with her statement.
In the last few years, faith communities have jumped on board supporting food banks by asking their congregation to donate food and even starting their own food banks, thinking this is something easy that the church could get involved in, be part of the community, use it as a “tool” for evangelism and share the love of Jesus in practical ways.
While food banks can provide a valuable service, it only deals with the symptoms and not the root cause of why so many people are queuing at the local food bank. We all need a helping hand from time to time but food banks do not provide long term solutions to the growing poverty we are witnessing.
Food banks enforces the status-quo. It creates an ‘us and them’ mentality which encourages a culture of dependency by the have-nots on those who do have. The Gospel is good news because it challenges the status-quo. It seeks to break down barriers between humanity and God and all sorts of barriers that divide people. Food banks becomes a poor expression of the Gospel if we don’t tackle the root cause of why we need them.
I would say that the creation of food banks in recent years says a whole lot more about us who do have than those who do not have.
Here are three practical alternative to food banks which challenges the status-quo and promote solidarity and mutuality:
1) Invite neighbours to your home and ask them to bring whatever ingredients they might have. Combine the ingredients to make a meal together.
2) Participate in a Living Wage protest. Growing inequality is part of the root cause of the problem of why there are food banks. While the cost of living keeps rising year-to-year, the minimum wage does not increase fast enough to reflect the current cost of living. Paying a living wage ensures people the bare minimum necessary to support their basic needs.
3) Facilitate a community garden. Encourage everyone to own it by taking care of it and help themselves to fruits and vegetables grown as needed. Why not turn derelict places and empty church yards into a garden?