Christmas for many is a time of excess, for example did you know that most people gain around 5lbs over Christmas, having consumed 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone? But whilst many will be gorging themselves on food and drink, there will be many in our community who will be going hungry this Christmas.
The Archbishop of Canterbury revealed this week how he was left more shocked by the plight of Britain’s hunger-striken poor than by suffering in African refugee camps, not because the suffering is worse, but because it was so unexpected. Britain is one of the world’s wealthiest countries in the world, yet 4.7 million people are facing food poverty. Here in Walsall there are at least five food banks, and according to The Trussell Trust three new food banks are opening every week across the country.
Redundancy, illness, low income, benefit delay, domestic violence, debt, family breakdown, financial pressures caused by rising food and fuel prices are just some of the many reasons why people are having to rely on food banks. People are going to food banks not out of choice, but out of need. Of the 913,138 people who were given emergency food and support between 2013-14, 333,205 were children. Tragically the need is only going to increase, as the financial challenges facing the country deepen.
At Christmas we recall how Jesus was born in poor and humble circumstances, and how Mary and Joseph were dependent upon the support that others gave them. We have a moral duty to support the hunger striken-poor.
There are a number of practical things you can do. You can donate food to one of the food banks here in Walsall – for details about your nearest food bank visit www.blackcountryfoodbank.org.uk or phone 01384 671250, or alternatively bring donations of food to the church for The Glebe Centre, which supports the homeless in Walsall. You can also support the work of The Big Feed, held at Midland Road Baptist Church in Walsall, which feeds up to 100 people every Sunday. They require donations of food, people to help cook meals at home (which are then frozen & collected during the week), or volunteering to go down to Midland Road Church to talk to the guests (contact Mandi on 01922 643946 for more information).
Despite the huge number of people facing food poverty, we can do something about it, and in serving others, we serve Christ.
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me… whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-36, 40