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Old 12-04-2012, 11:37 AM   #1
ajs
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Default No Free Church Meals?

This is a very interesting article http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/04/12/No-More-Free-Meals/. I would be interested to hear the comments of anyone involved in feeding people in this city.
My parents spent most of their lives feeding people in one way or another. If I remember correctly they attempted this organizational model (minus the local food angle). It was a moderate success.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:04 PM   #2
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Good strategy. Weeds out the total losers and gives those with any shred of intelligence or will an opportunity to build relationships and perhaps work their way towards real employment and a solution to their problems.

Now, if only we could get programs like this running that aren't faith-based. It's annoying that to get fed you have to endure indoctrination, but I guess the church needs to find new members somewhere when faced with rapid declining membership.
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Old 12-04-2012, 12:10 PM   #3
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When I was in Calgary, I was a member of the Single Volunteers group. The organizers would send us out in crews to various types of events from High Brow (symphony events, ballet) to Charity (usually Mustard Seed meals).

I enjoyed the Mustard Seed events. It was hard work but the organizers were good about giving out clear instructions. But I also felt a great deal of discomfort. Here we were, almost by definition middle-class and upper-middle-class professionals, giving up a day to feed "poor people" so we could both feel good about ourselves and get fed. It's true that we were really efficient, but it felt to me like I was playing Lady Bountiful. This quote from the article resonates with me:

Quote:
"This way, people have to work together as peers," says Hankinson. "We've gotten rid of volunteer and guest distinctions. We've flipped that power dynamic. We don't have these people from a middle class background serving these other poor people."
The "line up for food" model works in many situations mostly for people who are really at the bottom of the poverty cycle and you have to feed them now before you can do more work with them.

But I prefer the model as cited in the article. As a minimum, working for the meal teaches people how to manage food. It provides a wonderful chance to form good communities.

Paying a nominal sum is good also. Most food-poor are not entirely without resources. They just don't have the kind of resources that would enable them to produce really good meals on their own. Besides it's not good to eat alone all the time and eating out really is too expensive for many. By paying, even if they don't have the skills to provide work, they get to maintain a sense of dignity, of being entitled to eat.

Sadly, there will always be a role for the Mustard Seed model. But it would be good to see more of this alternative model.

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Old 12-04-2012, 12:42 PM   #4
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Hmmm, the old slippery slope... the challenges to universality in health care insurance comes to mind.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:21 PM   #5
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For this to really work it should be a model of both. Most humans have pride. Most humans have dignity. This includes homeless people. Most homeless would not mind the idea of a meal thats near free but still has a cost wether that be $$ or working for it.

Some humans have no dignity. Have no pride. And are perfectly find living off others. But should humanity turn our back on those people? Leave them to die/suffer/survive because its 'their fault'? I dont think so.
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:22 PM   #6
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How do you mean? I get the principle of universality, but how does it apply?
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Old 12-04-2012, 01:47 PM   #7
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The local food angle of this article also caught my attention. For those interested in developing strong local food systems (production, distribution etc.) there may be something in the notion of food security (writ large) for those most at risk of food insecurity.
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Old 13-04-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chmilz View Post
Now, if only we could get programs like this running that aren't faith-based. It's annoying that to get fed you have to endure indoctrination, but I guess the church needs to find new members somewhere when faced with rapid declining membership.
I can certainly see how you might feel that way, given the numerous selfish and self-serving actions committed by Christians over the centuries. However, I also know many Christians personally and have found most of them to be sincere and genuinely interested in helping people that are going through a rough spot in their lives. I've personally observed them in action (at soup kitchens, for example) without a hint of "indoctrination" or an ulterior motive to obtain new members.

Yes, some churches are declining in membership, but others are growing rapidly. People tend to be drawn to churches where love of God and fellow man is put into practice rather than just talked about. A question worth considering: why is it often the faith-based organizations that are most willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in helping those members of society that are marginalized? What motivates them?
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Old 14-04-2012, 12:26 PM   #9
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^Easy prey. Captive audience.
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Old 14-04-2012, 02:07 PM   #10
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^You're free to start something up yourself instead of just assuming the motives of others.
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Old 14-04-2012, 03:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doppelganger View Post

Yes, some churches are declining in membership, but others are growing rapidly. People tend to be drawn to churches where love of God and fellow man is put into practice rather than just talked about. A question worth considering: why is it often the faith-based organizations that are most willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in helping those members of society that are marginalized? What motivates them?
Exactly. I'm a member of the Knights of Columbus, an organsation that exists primarily to help the less-fortunate.
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