Cold Choices


By Jean Blish Siers *

When the weather turns cold, as it’s been the last few weeks, with temperatures dipping to single digits at night and hovering near freezing during the day, I start to stew. And bake and sauté and simmer. I might have chicken broth bubbling on the stove while bread rises on the counter and a pie bakes in the oven.

Since I was a little girl growing up in Minnesota, winter was a time of being cozy around the stove, helping my mom bake a cake or a pan of rolls, learning to make soup or hotdish, or how to roast a chicken. It felt good to have the stove and oven working away, and we were warmed in many different ways by the activity: There was the physical heat from the stove, the warmth of keeping busy, and the comfort of knowing we would soon have good, homemade food in our stomachs. And there was the added comfort of knowing this was a family activity, doing things together with my sister and my mother, usually.

According to Feeding America’s “2014 Hunger in America Study,” 75% of those who utilize food banks have had to choose between buying food and paying for heat. That doesn’t sound as cozy, does it? For them, a cold snap isn’t an opportunity; it’s a threat. But those choices are a reality to about one in five North Carolina residents. Poverty forces people to choose between food and medicine, or medicine and shelter, or shelter and transportation. It forces parents to pass up meals so their children have something to eat. None of this is healthy, and none of this should be acceptable in a nation as wealthy as ours.

There are lots of agencies working hard to patch together food for our neighbors, from food banks and pantries, to meals on wheels, and farmers who now accept SNAP benefits to try to get fresh produce to those in need. Society of St. Andrew has been working for decades to get produce that would go to waste onto the plates of those who need it most. It requires a lot of logistics and thousands of hours of time from dedicated volunteers.

I’m thankful that there are people who make the choice to donate their money or their time or their excess produce to Society of St. Andrew. It makes the choices faced by the neediest among us a little easier. Here’s hoping, during the chilly days of Lent, that someday our neighbors won’t need to make those choices, that good food will be readily available, and affordable, to all.

* Jean Blish Siers is SoSA’s Charlotte Area Gleaning Coordinator, and a regular contributor to this News & Events blog.


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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.

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