March 13, 2020

Mark 8:1-9a
In those days when there was again a great crowd without anything to eat, he called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way—and some of them have come from a great distance.” His disciples replied, “How can one feed these people with bread here in the desert?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd. They had also a few small fish; and after blessing them, he ordered that these too should be distributed. They ate and were filled; and they took up the broken piece’s leftover, seven baskets full. Now there were about four thousand people.

Reflection: These verses take me back to a time in the late 90’s when I was newly retired and asked to serve on the Heart of Illinois Harvest Board of Directors – Food Rescue. I was newly retired and not sure where I wanted to devote my extra time and energy, but this seemed like a good way to serve others. Well, it was a real eye opener to me on how much hunger and food was wasted in the Peoria area as well as how much good is being done by many restaurants and organizations. Heart of Illinois Harvest is a really grass roots organization where the board members and volunteers each take a turn in harvesting food to deliver to needy organizations such as the Salvation Army, Crittenton, and many more. At that time, there was one paid part-time employee which may still be the same today. Again, at that time, each board member was expected to take the call one weekend about every six to eight weeks.
     I certainly learned a lot on the weekends that I had call. Our son, Mike, was still at home so he would go with me many times as we drove to various restaurants to pick up food and deliver it to needy organizations. Sometimes it was just leftover donuts and rolls which were taken to Crittenton for a special treat for the residents and children currently residing there. Other times it might have been leftover food from a restaurant banquet or a grocery store which we would deliver to the Salvation Army or Southside Mission. The organizations were ALWAYS so very thankful.
     There are many groups in Peoria working to serve the hungry such as Loaves and Fish at First United Methodist and the Midwest Food Bank. They are always looking for volunteers. I know when I call Tina at Heart of Illinois Harvest after a Salem event where there is leftover food, she is always very grateful and timely in having the food picked up and delivered to those who are hungry. Please pray about the opportunity that might be waiting for you as we work together to share God’s love by feeding the hungry in our area.

Prayer: Dear Lord, watch over the hungry people in our area and help us to reach out to feed them. Let them feel your love and comfort through these acts of love and kindness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

-Helene Peterson