An Almonry

August 5, 2013 at 6:42 pm (Pilgrimage)

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Wifey serving the Hungry

Our Almonry launched in the early part of January. We have two reasons for doing such. First, it is good for my family to share food with other hungry people. We want to raise our children with a sense of charity. Although we sometimes have find it difficult to meet our own ends,  we usually don’t lack food. A lot of food is inexpensive– like rice, noodles, hamburger, chicken, beans, and punch– so it’s never really a problem. Secondly, we’re tired of letting perfectly good left-overs go bad in our refrigerator, so, when we over-cook, we figure its smart to give some away rather than toss it out. Thus, the Almonry began with a want to share our bounty, applying a couple excellent recipes given to us from our sister-in-law, Rosemary Bartlett.

Believe it or not, even in California we have cold days, and there certainly were a couple last January. We live near Santa Clara CA, and not far from there is a park where the hungry people daily congregate. Upon our first couple cooks, we stewed hot warm lentil-chicken soup with buns.  This year was particularly unusual. On-and-off, for the last fifteen years, I’ve served food to the homeless at St. James. Most homeless come from pitched camps along the Guadalupe River. This Spring, a literal tent city emerged with more than 120 homeless encamped between the airport and local water district properties. Large numbers of homeless don’t last long, and, once the local news reported it, the camps were quickly dispersed. There’s been a lot of hungry mouths– both deserving and not.

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our first serving

Anyway, by the time our apricot trees blossomed, we were getting ready for some serious canning and cobbler-making, and we knew we’d be back in the Park by early-Summer. The apricot season begins in late-June, so we spent about three weeks baking, jarring, and otherwise preserving the fruit from six apricot trees.  We had such an abundance of cobbler, we went St. James a number of times with pasta salads and it, refrigerating it the night beforehand so it could be served cold.   As a general rule, we try to serve hot food in the winter and cold in the summer. Anyway, trying to keep up with season fruits gives some insight as to why agricultural communities (as well as our grandparents and forefathers) had harvest festivals. You’re just frantic trying to find ways to consume and preserve the deluge of fruit before everything goes bad. A good way to keep up is share and trade with neighbors. A fair share went squirrels and birds too, so we were happy with what we could keep, and that was enough!

Mr. Bartlett getting Dirty

Mr. Bartlett getting Dirty

It’s now August, and our family has probably averaged about two to three servings at the Park a month. Right after the apricots, the peaches and apples followed. As I write this post, I plan to stop by the nursery and pick up a second apple tree because there’s so much you can do cooking-wise with apples. If you serve good food, the homeless tend to remember you, and we’ve gotten to know several folks this way on the personal level. Recognition doesn’t happen quick. It usually takes several servings before you get to know people or they even trust you a bit. So far, we estimate, we’ve served over three-hundred meals. Weekends average about 50 people per serving, while weekdays are less– maybe 30.

Everyone has been very thankful and polite, and we praise Jesus with them, reminding them our mutual blessings. I also try to testify about my own experience living along the River about fifteen years ago. Every once in a while folks will share problems, asking for help, and sometimes prayer, but most of the time people are happy for some good tasting, filling food with a cup of punch. People have come to know as as the christian family that comes out with the cute little, baby girl.

amanda servbing

step right up

One advantage of doing house cooks and then serving it to the hungry in urban parks, like St. James, is you actually get to know people. Food Banks are great, and serve a lot of needy folks, but you tend to work in the back, anonymously stocking inventory and warehouse shelves. This way, my family gets to meet the people face-to-face, perhaps know who they are trying to help, and there is both good and bad in all this– deserving and undeserving types. We’ve had people demand food, cut in line, or were drunk. We’ve also met people who were recently evicted from their apartment or home or homeless purely due to job loss rather than drugs/alcohol.  But we remember the adage that Christ left His flock to save a single sheep.

Moreover, it gets my family out of our, sometimes, self-absorbed rut– hopefully Glorifying God as we help others. We are reminded of that things could be worst for us and not to pout. I recall the brotherly motto: “Not for Self, but for Others”. This is something I want our little Abby to learn, and this lesson probably begins with her parents and what we do as a household together– learning a balance between duty and generosity, all wrapped together in the wisdom of Christian love.

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more pixs soon.

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1 Comment

  1. Charles said,

    Wow. This Sunday (9/22) we had a massive line of hungry people and ran out of food after about sixty plates. I think we learned it’s better to cook too much than come with less.
    https://bunnygarden.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/long-line1-e1380206738911.jpg?w=495

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