No Food Left To Give28th April 2012
Wellington City Missioner Susan Blaikie has been telling Kapiti Independent of the amazing public response to the recent news that the City Mission had no food left to give to families in need.
She says the City Mission has since received ‘wonderful’ donations of money and food,
— together with criticisms of families who can`t manage.
The Foodbank StoryBy Susan Blaikie
The Wellington City Mission foodbank stocks hit a ten-year low recently, primarily due to a 20-30% increase in the amount of food we are giving out, particularly to large families we support. Since publishing our situation, we’ve had a truly amazing and humbling response with individuals and families coming in to donate food. Just today I had a mother come in with the pocket money of her two girls who wanted it to go towards food.
And Watties have really come to the party with gifting us 17,000 cans of spaghetti, baked beans and fruit. It sounds a lot, but believe you me we’ll get through it!
Since publishing the situation of our foodbank, we have also attracted criticism primarily around the expectation that families should be self-sufficient. I have found some of the comments fascinating; insisting that it is up to each family to adopt a pattern or lifestyle (one comment insisting they should take birth control) to ensure they do not require the assistance of community, even at the most basic level of having enough food to eat for their children.
Should we be islands?
One of the roles of the Wellington City Mission is to challenge or be provocative on just what our human story is. Should we be islands? Self-sufficient and self-determining, making sure we have income and reserves to weather our own storms. Or are we, as John Donne expressed so beautifully in Meditations XVII, ‘a piece of the continent, a part of the main.’ Every person that comes into The Mission not only receives practical care, they are reconnected into the human story. We are in community together, and therefore we suffer when one part suffers, and rejoice when one part rejoices. We experience our connectedness profoundly in the tragic deaths of Pike River Mine or the Christchurch earthquakes; should it diminish in poverty or hardship?
It’s for this reason that I love the challenge our foodbank presents. It’s a daily demand that never arrives. It’s there every day, requiring of our community to give what it can of its daily bread. I love it when our community comes through, as it so often does. It’s wonderful when I walk in the door of our Newtown Office and I hear the squeals of delight (it doesn’t take much to excite our foodbank staff) when an unexpected carton of broccoli or leeks arrive. Our demand for daily bread challenges the comfort and boundaries of our islands; just as it’s meant to.