The first time I visited a Soup Kitchen, I was a little girl in Australia; my father brought us there each national holiday as a reminder of what our country’s soldiers had sacrificed for us, how some of those veterans were now living, and what simple thing we had in our power to do to give back. I didn’t understand why, but I saw the years of battle, defeat & melancholy etched on their faces. I gradually learned that while it’s important to be empathic to each and every person’s daily troubles, and to never minimize anyone’s verbalized pains, there was also someone out there who suffered devastating injuries, grief and loss, and silently endured struggles beyond comprehension.
The first time I needed a Food Bank/Soup Kitchen, I was a relatively new immigrant here in the USA, void of family, working minimum wage, barely earning enough to pay for a roof over my head, but not nearly enough food. Pride and fear prevented me from entering one, for weren’t these only for homeless and veterans? If I accepted this help, it would be admitting defeat.
The first time I worked in a Soup Kitchen, I was flabbergasted by the diversity of people entering the hall. My viewpoint was embarrassingly narrow minded as I grew older. There were homeless, there were veterans, there were unemployed, there were babies, and children, but there were also folks who looked just like you, and they looked just like me. Employed, but no matter how hard they tried, they were unable to make ends meet with bills, so they gratefully accepted the help to feed themselves, as well as their families. All meals very nutritious, well prepared and plentiful. But what really stood out was the unlimited support and empathy.
I go now, not for validation of self, but for the original intent, when life gets seemingly overwhelming - and I’m offered a shift in viewpoint of what life’s priorities are, a childhood perspective; What really matters to us on a basic level instead of complaints or demands, and where the daily struggles fit in on the grand scale of life - how we treat those who barely make minimum wage, beyond the ridicule of kids who only eat “boring bread and butter” for lunch every day because their parents can’t afford to deviate, the assumptions we make about the unemployed and uneducated, the assumptions we make about people who are employed but harbor secrets of dire financial situations, or people we brand “too cheap,” without knowing their story, and our country’s veterans who have lost their way. In the forefront of my mind, I am aware that the need for a Soup Kitchen may pop up again, for it is a fool that assumes that there are any financial guarantees in this life, or that they will never need the assist of this valuable community service. If I’m a fool once, I won’t be so again, and would appreciate the kind community assist. If we can’t take a moment to be grateful for the basics in life, or act on the compassion of which we speak for others, then maybe it’s time to reconsider our objectives in life.
FEEDING AMERICA - Impact of hunger/Find your local Food Bank;