A Big Goal: Hitting Zero!

By Jean Blish Siers *
zero-point-zeroNonprofits such as Society of St. Andrew measure success differently from the rest of the world. We live in a world where profits and clicks and “likes” drive everything from advertising to hiring to salaries. But that’s not the way our ministry works.

The other day, I was chatting with Keith, the head of an agency that receives produce from us. It’s that time of year when I’m checking in, making sure everyone is on-board when the zucchini and corn and watermelon start rolling in as summer begins.

I asked if he had seen a decline in the numbers he serves, since, statistically, food insecurity declined slightly in the past year. He said he hadn’t. He told me that not long ago he’d been talking to someone about what he does, and how many more people he has fed each year the agency opened. The man asked him, “What number are you trying to hit? What’s your goal?” Keith said, “I told him my goal was zero. I won’t be happy until no one needs to come get food from me each week.”

Society of St. Andrew works the same way. Of course, we track how many pounds we save and distribute, and how many servings of food that translates to. The more people we are able to feed, the happier we are. And every pound food that doesn’t go into a landfill or get plowed under is a victory.

But our goal is to live in a world where food doesn’t go to waste and no one is hungry. Since 40% of food in the United States goes to waste, and between 15% and 20% of people are food insecure, agencies such as Society of St. Andrew, and the ministries we serve, have a grim sort of job security.

In Matthew 26:7, Jesus told his followers, “For you always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish …” I hear a lot of people interpret that to mean that there will always be poor people and there’s nothing we can do. I think Jesus is telling us to be with the poor. We are called to be in relationship with those in need, to bring them food if they hunger, and to share our clothing if they are cold. They are truly with us and we are with them, and if people are poor and hungry in our communities, our communities suffer. We all suffer.

This summer I’ll work as hard as I can to save as much food as I can and get it as deep into the communities I serve as I can. And I know that the agencies and families who receive the food will stretch it as far as it will go. But none of us will be happy until everyone is fed.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator.



In the event I, or a registered family member, suffers any illness or accident requiring emergency hospitalization, medication, or other medical assistance while participating in a gleaning event, permission is given for any medical treatment which is deemed necessary and reasonable under the circumstances. I fully understand and comprehend that reasonable care will be exercised by the adult staff for this gleaning event to protect the safety of those involved. I understand that the field supervisor’s instructions must be followed at all times, and that I am responsible for any damages caused to fields, farms, or equipment by me/my family members not following these instructions.

Photos, videos, and other images in which I, or a registered family member, appear that are taken during gleanings may be used by the Society of St. Andrew for news coverage, newsletters, reports, displays, and for other print, broadcast, web, or electronic news or promotional purposes.

I do not hold the board, members, or employees of the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA,) or any volunteers liable for injury, bodily harm, accidents, or death of myself/my child during events sponsored by the Society of St. Andrew. Neither will I hold the person(s) who owns and/or operates the property from which we glean, salvage, or to which we deliver food, liable for accidents, injury, or death during the gleanings or other SoSA events.

For a PDF print version of this waiver, click here.

How the Story of the 12 Baskets is Connected to SoSA’s Name

Matthew 14:16-21

But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!” They said to Him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.

2 Kings 4:42-44

[…]the man of God […] said, “Give them to the people that they may eat.” His attendant said, “What, will I set this before a hundred men?” But he said, “Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left over.’” So he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.