Salty and Sweet

When I started contributing, I didn’t realize I would end up actually talking to people. Each Sunday morning before church I have been stopping by the grocery store to buy peanut butter, cans of tuna, cans of beans, pasta and sauce, other healthy non-perishable foods plus sometimes diapers and tampons. I unload my canvas bag into the pretty blue cabinet doors of the food pantry built behind my church during covid quarantine days. It feels good to do this; so easy, so immediate. Anyone who feels a need can come and take anything from this pantry, there is no judging.

Ah, except of course there is always judging. And the food pantry empties so quickly. When I check on it after church to see what items are popular and what remain, nearly everything is gone. The man hopping on his bike, trying awkwardly to sling a red grocery bag’s two skinny straps over his shoulder like a backpack, stops to complain. “Those kids just came and took it all. Those two teenagers got here before me.”

“I’m so sorry, I guess they need it,” I said, peering into the cupboard. “Do you want this can of sauce?” “No,” he said. “I can’t use that, I’m homeless. I need this stuff more than them.”

Lightbulbs began going off for me. My pasta was helpful to some, but of what use was it to this man? Did he have a can-opener, I wondered, for a can of tuna? I told him I would remember what he said.

“I just got here late, today,” he said, more gently. “Sometimes its good.” His face brightened. “Once there were chips.”

I can’t stop thinking about the chips. My first mental reaction was that I would never buy potato chips for a food pantry. I would provide healthy choices. Then I remembered buying hot chocolate packages, imagining a mom able to give her children a treat on a cold winter morning. Why not chips for a man living in a tent? Food is necessary for survival but as an expression of love and caring, perhaps we all need the sweet and the salty as well.

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5 thoughts on “Salty and Sweet

  1. Fran, I love the voice you hear from the one whose needs are being expressed in such a heartfelt way. I think chips are absolutely a treat for those who need them. I love what you are doing with your church’s pantry. Meeting needs right in our own communities is sometimes overlooked in the shadow of the Great Commission, and you remind us that going ye therefore can also be going into our own backyards. Powerful post today!

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    1. Kim, thanks for your kind and heartfelt response. I had to look up the Great Commission, and it made me want to be sure that I am not misleading you or other readers. My church is not Christian, but does believe in “the inherent worth and dignity of all souls.” I guess we can say, many people of good will are traveling different journeys.

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  2. WOW Fran. Your slice wonderfully unfolds the many perspectives. You hooked me in with your kindness of purchasing healthy items. You end getting me to think differently. Easy to open, easy to prepare and even a salty treat. Writing is so powerful when many perspectives are shown. Your writing is powerful today! Thanks for sharing. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

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  3. I love the reminder that we have different things that bring a smile to our faces. I’m with him – I love a good bag of chips. Thank you for sharing this in a way that touched my heart today.

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  4. This post is a great reminder that pantries feed bellies as well as hearts and souls! I have never provided chips but will be adding them tomorrow to my basket.

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