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Friday, 11 November 2011

Food for the Hungry

Black Creek Pioneer Village
The winter holiday season is fast approaching - Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice. We are all thinking about what great festival food we will cook and serve. But before we get there, I think we need to consider not only those who will have less than sufficient for their holiday meal, but those who are suffering daily, and losing their lives, because of famine, drought, political trouble and malnutrition-linked disease. The first to die are the very young and the very old; then people weakened by disease, and finally those who should be in the prime of life.

I am advocating that everyone who plans to keep the holidays with gifts, parties and food cut back their festivities by half, and give the rest to the poor. Yes, by half. Half the giving, half the traveling, half the food budget. I don't mean a token $5 in the Sally Ann bell ringer's kettle, but half of what you would usually spend on holidays. If you plan to spend $500 on gifts and food, give $250.

This could go to an overseas mission like Samaritan's Purse or Doctors without Borders, or it could go to a local food bank.

This may mean your own holiday feast is less than your family expects. There is no reason it has to be a huge roast turkey or beef. Buy a cheaper cut of meat, serve a couple of fresh vegetable side dishes, and a simple pie or fruit crumble for dessert. Bake two kinds of cookies instead of five, and make them regular sugar cookies or molasses-gingerbread shaped cookies instead of rich butter cookies or nut cookies. Serve a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage or dry cider instead of wine.

My turkey pot pie recipe is a good one for entertaining - all the turkey taste, and the bird goes much farther. Roast a small, cheap turkey, or make the one bird last several post-holiday meals. Stuffing and gravy can be made separately. You get the idea.

Also, instead of the soporific and wasteful big Christmas dinner, have a soup meal late Christmas eve, before or after the church service, a Christmas brunch based on eggs, cheese and bread, and a light evening meal later. Lay out sliced bread, cheeses, fresh raw vegetables and dip, and the cookies for people to snack on through the afternoon.

Find a time in the holiday season to take on a charity project - help with a dinner at a shelter, a street ministry, a hospital or a soup kitchen. Encourage your church or spiritual group to adopt a mission. It doesn't have to be Christmas day - perhaps another Sunday or weekend would be better for the institution and those who utilize it. A lot happens on Christmas - volunteer for February instead.

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