Progressive Revival

By about ten this morning, outside the food pantry I run at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, the line of people waiting to get free groceries reached around the block. There were hundreds in the crowd: Chinese grandmothers with kids in tow, Salvadoran moms lugging babies, African-American ladies with their shopping carts, tired-looking white couples, Mixtec day laborers,  Russian seniors, some homeless guys, a few sex workers and a man who told me, almost crying, that he’d lost his car because he couldn’t keep up with the payments. He wanted me to pray that he wouldn’t lose his apartment, too. 

You may have heard that the economy is in trouble. You may not know, yet, how hungry your neighbors are. But we can tell you: sixty percent of the people in our area who use food banks have at least one working adult in their household. It’s just getting harder and harder for people to pay rent, buy gas, and also put enough food on the table when they’re working at minimum wage jobs.
Our food pantry serves more than 600 families every week. We give away around seven tons of food each Friday– fresh vegetables, fruit, cereal, rice, beans and moreº–that we buy for pennies a pound from a local food bank connected with the nonprofit national association America’s Second Harvest.
And every week our numbers grow. So though feeding people is my joy and my vocation; though I believe offering food to everyone without exception is one of the best things a church can do, it’s not enough. “Faith-based charity” can’t be the solution for an economy in which low-wage workers are suffering more each month. 
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