Benjamin Preece Smith, Diocesan Secretary, blogs about Feeding the 5,000
Easter Week was different this year. The usual week at Nana’s house in Somerset (and onward to the delights of Lyme Regis and Trago Mills) was replaced by two new activities. The first was scraping off mid-twentieth century emulsion from Victoria distemper in a decommissioned outside lav. The second was delivering meals for “Feeding the 5,000”. Both obviously have resonance with church life but, with due deference to the DAC, I thought it might be more interesting to share what it’s been like working with Feeding the 5,000.
If you haven’t heard, “Feeding the 5,000” is a project to deliver tasty, nutritious meals to isolated and needy people around Gloucestershire. It is being led by Bishop Rachel and The Long Table which part of a community led by some inspiring Christians who find a pure but challenging form of faith through their everyday work. It differs from simply being a take-away service by ensuring the food is really “good” – in taste, in ethics, and in the spirit in which it is made and shared. If people need food but can’t afford it then they can have the food for free. So far the scheme has delivered over 10,000 meals – roughly half paid for and half free. It is going to NHS workers in our hospitals, homeless people in Gloucester, food bank customers and even wealthy but isolated retirees who help the scheme by providing an income to support its work.
In following the scheme I saw they were going to start delivering in the Cotswolds (where I live) and needed volunteer drivers who had a car, a valid driving license, were fit and under 70. With the acceptance of a loose definition of “fit” it was a person spec which even I fitted. Karen Czapiewski who is leading the local delivery team therefore kindly added me to the team.
It’s a real joy to be involved. I turn up at the Royal Agricultural University on Tuesday and Thursday morning and meet a group of jolly people delighted to qualify for the luxury of being out of the house and being useful. We get a list of who to deliver to with postcodes and telephone number, and meals all bagged up by the wonderful Jo – so it’s really easy to get right. I then trundle off with my cool-box to do the Ciren-Lechlade run. The people I meet are of all sorts – some very surprising – but all give a warm welcome, partly for the food but I think more for the contact and the fact that the amazing team across the county – at the Long Table, the RAU, Roots, Clean Plate, Sober Parrot, Kings School and in local churches and communities are thinking of them and caring for them.
Like many of the good ways and things we are discovering at this time it becomes exciting to think of how this might shape our future lives, how we might feast together in a meal of thanksgiving more often, how we might rediscover the Eucharist of Paul’s letters.
But for now – back to the distemper.
Visit our Feeding the 5,000 webpage for more details.
Help us provide this vital service during this crisis by donating what you can – THANK YOU _