There are 193 countries in the world, and I have been to many of them. Each of the countries and cultures I’ve visited are unique and within them are their own subcultures. I’ve met people in villages that click for their language. I have laughed in Spanish, Swahili and half a dozen other languages that I am no longer proficient in.
As different and unique as these places are, there are a couple of things that are universal. One of the constants that unites every culture I’ve encountered is food.
I could take you to a village in East Africa today, drive in and we will be warmly received and greeted. Without asking, food will appear.
By the way, there may only be a handful of food in the entire village. But, they will go and prepare it for us as we are guests. They will always give their best.
Food is a powerful tool that unites. Think about it. The president of the United States will reserve the best we have and, depending on who the dinner is intended to honor, prepare the most culturally appropriate meal possible and invite the most influential guests for a state dinner.
In all my travels, I’ve realized food has the potential to unite us, but it also has the power to communicate the value we feel toward someone. This is why when someone is coming over to our home we concentrate and figure out what we are going to prepare for them to eat. We stress over it because we want it to be perfect. Why? The food we share communicates how we feel and the value we hold for the person or people.
We do the same thing when someone is visiting, and we want to take them out for a special dinner. Perhaps it is the most difficult, stressful question ever asked, “Where? Where do we go out to eat?” Why? We want our family and friends to enjoy it, remember it, cherish the experience. Why? Because food communicates value.
Food is the center of our social life. We gather around it, and we experience life, friends, fellowship and relationships with it. If you think back on the best or most difficult times in your life, food won’t be far away from that memory.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and the Super Bowl … the most important of holidays of our year are all food centric to their celebrations.
There is a woman in Grand Rapids who because of a death in her family brought her three grandchildren home to live with her. She worked but needed help every month from the local food pantry to make sure the kids were food secure.
Recently, she retired and now volunteers as a translator for the pantry she received help from all the years she was raising her grandchildren. She represents the people served by the food banks of the Food Bank Council of Michigan. We want the food we share to communicate value, worth and esteem to everyone who comes to our network. That is why we take all steps necessary to ensure the food is safe and of the highest quality nutritionally and freshness.
Think about it, food has the power to unite us. There are two words that should never go together – hunger and children. No exceptions ever. In all my travels, in all my years, I cannot say I’ve ever met anyone who wants kids to go hungry. There is sometimes great disagreement on how best to help them, but no one wants them to feel the pains of hunger.
Few issues or challenges have the great potential to unite us rather than divide us. Creating food security can unite us especially as we focus on kids.
Food communicates value and worth. It is centric to life both as substance and hope. Food is a powerful force for good. Learn more by connecting with us on social media or visiting our website at www.fbcmich.org