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A local pastor's 'food' for thought


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Published on: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

By Dr. Anita Naves

Have you ever had an epiphany, a type of vision that impacts your conscience so deeply it practically gives you a “scary” feeling? 

Well, that’s what I experienced last month. During my daily course of running errands, I literally counted the number of people standing at various locations around the county, who asked me if “I could spare some change or food.” I noticed that the number of faces had increased. 

While parked at a light, one man even asked if I had a bottle of water. Although I had no water, I offered him a half container of soda I had been drinking. To my surprise, the man who had been standing on the sidewalk selling newspapers unashamedly accepted, and, with appreciation, he thanked me. As I drove off, it dawned on me that my travel had been interrupted a total of 13 times by people asking for something of vital importance, either food, water or money.

Some were teenagers and young men in their early twenties. There were Hispanic women holding makeshift signs asking “for money to buy food for children” and others were “scrappy” looking men over 50, who professed to be either homeless, jobless or just coming out of prison. Believe it or not, my travel included very short distances between the areas of Suitland, Forestville, Largo, Camp Springs, Lanham and Mount Rainier.

As I continued to drive, suddenly out of the silence of my mind, I heard these words: “Are people prepared in the event of a major food crisis?”

Startled by the reality of that question, I seriously started to think, “What if suddenly something happened in the economy that would impede the flow and distribution of food to our stores?”

What would we all do?

It’s bad enough that when a harsh storm hits our area, the shelves are quickly emptied of water, bread, milk and other vital items. Just like the people in Haiti, and victims of Hurricane Katrina, they were caught off guard! Of course, we all know that there are many acts of nature that we have no control over. However, it doesn’t help to prepare for what is already among us that has the propensity to snowball into something major.   

Of course, not everyone is going hungry. In some cases, people are over-eating. Yet, some people don’t have enough food in their homes, and some have not enough to sustain them for a week. 

And, what about the other “all too real” factors — homelessness, joblessness and being underpaid? In some cases, there are people who are employed and still have a challenging time providing for themselves or their family.   

Hunger does not discriminate. At any moment, we all can find ourselves in situations where our fortune has traded faces with misfortune, leaving us vulnerable to many perils that threaten our wellbeing. All it takes is one more major financial crisis, seeking to devour many more victims.  

Again, I ponder with consideration. Where does the church stand in all of this? Are our community food pantries able to sustain? And if so, for how long? What is the remedy for these considerations? How many struggling mothers, teens and unemployed men will line our streets and corners begging for money to buy food?

As a two-time International History Maker, multi-award- winning youth and community activist, pastor, and founder of the first Prince George’s County YouthFest, I have earned many prestigious honors, proclamations and awards. I even cherish a thoughtful recognition letter from President George Bush. But, it’s not the titles that I am most proud of, but what I choose to continue to do with the honors and titles that have been bestowed upon me — and that is to continue to empower youths, families and communities in the spirit of love.

For me, that means taking necessary steps to help others prepare their homes, churches and local food pantries to better serve the poor, the needy, the widows, and the fatherless — and a new list that Jesus did not mention: the underpaid, the jobless, the single parents, and those re-re-entering society.

We must be ready to meet the demands of hunger now and in the near future.

If you would like to help make a difference in our communities by volunteering, offering speaking engagements or donations, please contact the Youthfest Organization as we present “OPERATION FOOD VISION 2012®”  at ani842@netzero.net.

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