Our family and community is using Lent as a chance to cut our food bills in order to raise money for the poor
I’ve never been a fan of giving things up either for New Years resolutions or Lent. If there’s something you should give up, just give it up. If I have some unhealthy habits, I shouldn’t need to wait for some arbitrary event to give me the reason to alter my habits. And, frankly, I’ve never seen an awful lot of point in giving up chocolate, Facebook, television, or any such thing. My chocolate eating, Facebook browsing, and TV watching is not out of control, and I don’t think my life would be significantly altered—for better or worse—by giving any of these up. That’s not to say it might not be a good decision for you—it’s just not something I see a lot of value in for me.
That said, as a family and as a faith community, we’ve decided this year we are going to do something for Lent that I’m actually very excited about and think is of real value. We’re aiming to cut our food bill throughout Lent by one third. Our plan is to dramatically cut what we spend on our groceries in order to: identify with those who are struggling to put food on their tables; raise money for local food banks; and to reconnect with the heart of God for the poor.
With so many people genuinely struggling to make ends meet and put food on their tables, it felt like it would be good to remind ourselves what it can feel like to struggle to pay for our most basic needs. I say remind because, having been made redundant some years ago, it’s a feeling we’ve been through once before. Even though we’re far from rich and have our own financial challenges, it’s easy to become complacent about our basic needs and to take them from granted. Our hope is that through this season we’ll grow in gratitude and at least get a little sense of what it is like to have to really think about every penny we spend in order to simply get enough food for our families.
Cutting our food bill by a third will free up a fair bit of money. And our aim as a family and community is to give all this extra cash to those in need. We’re going to be working with a local food bank to help make more food and other essentials available to those who are most in need at the moment. Though we’re a small community, our hope is that, for the people who benefit, it’ll make a big difference.
It’s impossible to read the Bible and not come away with the sense that though God has no favourites, if he did, he’d side with the poor and needy. There are countless Scriptures reminding people to remember the poor and do something practical to help them. Our hope is that this Lent season will also serve as an opportunity to (re)connect with God’s heart for those in need. For those of us who say we are followers of Christ, how we treat and serve the poor, needy, and broken is probably the truest indicator of just how closely we are following him.