The simplest gifts often have the biggest impact on our neighbors in need, but perhaps none other than a hearty home-cooked meal to nourish the body and soul in times of stress.
The children, women, and men who come to our shelters for rest are all experiencing some sort of crisis, upheaval, or high-stress situation in their lives. While we assist them in any way we can, we know that it is essential to meet their basic human needs first with food, shelter, and clothing.
As part of the human family, we have these basic needs in common. Food is one that through human history has become a source of gathering and community, a sign of friendship and hospitality. It is a common gesture of comfort and assistance to offer a meal to someone who has just lost a loved one, or new parents who are overwhelmed and sleep deprived. In the very same way, a home-cooked meal is a gesture of comfort and a special expression of love to our neighbors in shelter who are going through unimaginably difficult times.
While they work to get back on their feet, a homemade meal can nourish their stress-worn bodies. At the same time, the knowledge that someone in the community cared enough to share a meal with them is the secret ingredient that can nourish their souls with comfort, strength, and hope. You can provide that gift of nourishment with a Casserole or Bag Lunch Donation!
This is an easy and effective way to provide an enriching meal to your neighbors as they navigate the experience of homelessness. Casseroles help provide that warm, hearty, home-cooked-meal comfort to the large numbers of guests we serve daily. Bag Lunches allow us to accommodate guests who arrive at our shelters in-between mealtimes, or who are unable to eat a meal on-site due to appointments and/or work commitments.
These types of food drives are a wonderful opportunity for large groups. Our shelters typically go through 100 Bag Lunches per day, and 30-40 Casseroles for one meal. The more helping hands, the merrier!
“The poor suffer less from a lack of generosity than a lack of organization.” These words of St. Vincent de Paul reflect how he saw the generosity and love in the hearts of his parishioners who wanted to help their neighbors. He guided their efforts by organizing their works of charity in the best, most effective way. This spirit of organization lives on today. It is easier than ever to sign up for meal donations year-round. You will find sign-up sheets, donation guides and recipes by following this link: https://stvincentdayton.org/casserole-donation-program/
Ideas for Holding a Casserole or Bag Lunch Drive
- Hold a Casserole drive at your workplace or church. Provide pans and recipes (from our Manager of Food Services’ list of simple and approved classics) so participants can take them home to cook and freeze them at their convenience ahead of a specific drop-off date.
- Make it a family service project and involve everyone—small children can help gather and dump ingredients, older children can help combine, and parents can supervise and operate the oven.
- Assembling Bag Lunches can be a great team-building exercise. Gather your teammates or colleagues, ask everyone to bring an ingredient, and take time chatting with one another while assembling the lunches.
*The secret ingredient is always LOVE: As you work, ask everyone to say something they are thankful for and offer special prayers for the people who will eat the food.
Final Food for Thought
When God called upon Mary to give life to His only Son Jesus, Mary replied with, “Behold the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to Your Word.” (Lk 1:38)
This profoundly humble act of obedience is an example for us to follow. Mary accepted her role as Handmaid of the Lord to bring Jesus, the Bread of Life, to the spiritually hungry. In a similar way, we can be the handmaids of the Lord by bringing handmade meals to our neighbors who are hungry in body and soul.
Thank you for prayerfully considering this opportunity to feed the hungry in our community and thank you as always for accompanying us in our mission!