Gourmet food. Soul food. Fast food. Southern food. Health food. Snack food.
We party with it. Snack on it. Plan our days around it.
It is the centerpiece of family reunions, football parties, church fellowships, romantic dates, and even movie nights.
Multiple restaurants on nearly every street.
Fully stocked grocery stores.
It is available 24 hours a day.
We have entire cable channels devoted to it.
We don’t even have to get out of our cars to get it.
We are so blessed in the USA to have more than enough of it.
We “ask the blessing” before we eat. We teach our kids to do it, too.
But what are we really saying?
I admit that most of the time I am thanking God for giving me food that I like. I am sincerely thankful that God has provided food for us, but most of the time I don’t really consider what an incredible blessing having food is. I take it for granted - as if there were no other option. I don’t even think about it. The concept of not having food is not a part of my daily life. I’ve never in my entire life wondered where my next meal is coming from.
There have been times, when presented with some terrible statistic or picture of a hungry child, that I have thought about other people – other moms – who have to see their children hungry. And it has brought me to tears. I can’t imagine their pain. It has to be a horrible reality. But not until recently has it become truly personal.
The lack of food or the availability of food makes the difference not only between being hungry or being satisfied, it also determines whether families can stay together. How many birth families who have given up their children have done so because they simply lack the food to feed them? How many could remain together if they had enough food? It is crazy for me to think that something as simple as food has the power to separate families or allow them to stay together.
I know there are often other factors. That most children who live in poverty around the world also do not have access to education, healthcare, or “good” jobs. But the lack of food is critical to daily life and requires immediate action. You can live together as a loving family without those other things, but not being able to provide food for your children places parents in a desperate situation that must be remedied.
It is heartbreaking that families who already have so little must often give up their most cherished relationships - their own children or grandchildren or neices or nephews - because they do not have what we so blatantly take for granted every day. Families are literally torn apart for lack of food.
That is not okay.
Food is more than entertainment. More than an activity or hobby. Even more than just a way not to be hungry. Having food helps us keep our family together. If we didn’t have food, our kids may not be able to stay with us. That is a sobering thought.
Since this reality hit me a few days ago, I have not seen our daily habit of “asking the blessing” the same way ...and I never will again.
I am truly thankful for our food on a whole new level.
I am thankful that I am not hungry.
I am thankful that my kids are not hungry.
But most of all I am thankful that we get to stay together as a family.