You may or may not have heard of an initiative in our community called Pathway to Potential (P2P). It is a working strategy to make our community stronger. P2P’s web pages says that theirs is “a strategy for reducing poverty in Windsor and Essex County. Poverty reduction is a critical first step toward creating a strong, healthy and vibrant community” Hosting roundtables and engaging leaders in our community to take action against poverty, is all a part of the good work being done by Adam Vasey and all the folks at P2P.

This week P2P have asked me to take part in a programme called “Do the Math Challenge” and I have accepted the invitation. The challenge is for me to rely on a 3-day supply of food that a person on social assistance would receive from a food bank. A number of community leaders in Windsor-Essex have been asked to participate. The goal is not just that we might better identify with the needs of those who hunger, but also that we speak, blog, and educate friends, family and colleagues as we live in the moment.

Here is what the “Do The Math” challenge looks like:

Try and eat only what’s on the list (along with five standard pantry ingredients – for example oil, flour, salt, coffee, tea, margarine, soy sauce, ketchup, garlic, spices) for at least 3 full days, and longer if you can, as it is the experience of people who use food banks to have to make the food last for a week or more.

Single person —

2 boxes Kraft Dinner (or substitute extra rice if gluten-intolerant) —

3 juice boxes — 3 single-serving-size scoops dry rice —

2 small cans soup —

box of dry cereal or 3 packages instant oatmeal —

 any TWO of: 175 g tin of tuna, chicken or turkey; small jar peanut butter; 3 eggs —

2 small cans of tinned vegetables, or 1 tin vegetables and 1 fruit —

1 potato —

1 onion —

1 can plain beans or chickpeas, or 1 can pork and beans —

3 granola bars or 3 fruit chews —

1 quart milk —

1 loaf bread (or substitute extra rice)

I am blogging today to invite you all to pray for me as I get set to do this. Over the next few days I will be doing what I can to raise awareness of the needs of those who rely on food banks in our community. I am looking at this as a very important spiritual exercise. It is not always good enough for us to simply imagine what someone else is going through. The Christian is called to enter into it. This can be difficult for us as it requires choosing to take on discomfort or pain for another’s sake.

“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to place where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it.” – Henri Nouwen

While supporting the food bank is a no brainer for me, I am praying that this exercise will give me a new level of understanding and a renewed compassion for those in our communities that hunger. I plan to blog throughout my 3 day sojourn and as I get ready for it. As you read my reflections perhaps you might consider how we might together work to address this issues of hunger in our community. Pray that together we might find the will to enter into another’s journey in the sincere hope that we might discover ways to be attentive to the needs on that journey.