Thirty years ago, I was introduced to the Appalachian Service Project, an organization which helps repair, improve, or replace homes of economically disadvantaged people in the hollers of West Virginia. The citizens had almost nothing, including a plate full of almost nothing at suppertime. As cheerful as they seemed, their stomachs continued to talk. One hard-boiled egg was a full meal to many.
Nine years ago, in Minneapolis, I became acquainted with Open Arms of Minnesota, a non-profit organization which prepares meals for people who have critical illnesses and can’t cook for themselves. Volunteers serve more than 800 people with Cancer, ALS, MS, and HIV-AIDS with a week’s worth of food, delivered to their doorsteps. When I began cooking in the Open Arms’ kitchen, I began to see for the first time how many people are in need of food – the most important medicine in their wellness box. My eyes were opened to the poor, homeless, and hungry people right here – no need to travel thousands of miles to see hunger at it’s best.
Now, working with a food shelf in a neighboring church, and cooking community meals in my church, I see hungry people right in my neighborhood. Donations from the local food banks and donations from gardeners are absolutely not enough to feed the many hungry people who depend on these types of organizations for meals.
“Feed My People” quilt is a statement. We have the hungry people in America. We also have plenty of food. However, there is a disparity between the food and the people; whether it be money, political concerns of a few, a dip in profits of a company: none of these excuses are reasonable. Food shelves can’t do it all. We need to step up and help people ourselves.
Look at the despair, the hopelessness, the hunger in people’s faces. Can we afford to cause our neighbor Americans this much pain? I encourage you to give big and give often to your local food shelf and pray that we will all have enough to eat.
Much credit goes to Glenn H. Austin who has allowed me to use his photo of the black man draped in the American Flag to create my own version. He has given much of his time to the homeless community and continues to give through this quilt. Credit also goes to Lucian Coman, the photographer of the black woman, who has given me permission to use his photo in creating my own version of this beautiful face.
“Feed My People” art quilt uses fusing to build the faces, then stitching of the pieces to withstand the test of time. The wrought iron fence is a symbol of the disparity referred to previously. The stuffed veggies behind the fence speak for themselves.
“Feed my People” is available for display. Any money attained by showing this art quilt will go directly to a local food shelf.
FEED MY PEOPLE STORIES
Jeffrey, 8 Year old boy:
Jeffrey is homeless. He roams the streets by day and sleeps in a large cardboard furniture box by night under a tall bridge. He scours the tourist sites during the day, picking up half-eaten sandwiches just tossed by well-fed sightseers who buy more than they can consume. When tourists are few, Jeffrey wonders where his next meal will come from. When city workers clean the streets near his box, Jeffrey wonders, when returning to it, if it will still be there. Jeffrey has no known family and he does not attend school.
Morty and Iris:
A loving couple, weathered by hunger, worry, despair, but holding true to each other, Morty and Iris enjoy sunny days on a park bench, watching the world go by. They have subsidized housing, a small flat with no kitchen and no hot water. They stretch their tiny income to it’s limit which usually gets them to the 25th day of the month. The last week’s dining experiences include handouts, one meal at a local soup kitchen, and whatever they find on the streets. After 49 years as a couple, Morty and Iris still maintain an undying love for each other. Jobs have always been short-lived for both of them, but their love remains.
Raymond is an angry man through and through. He is angry that he didn’t get the promotions that were coming to him at work. He’s angry that his family doesn’t understand him and doesn’t want to be around him. He’s angry at the social worker who desperately tries to find him a place to sleep. He’s angry at the tourists who shy away from him. He’s angry that his stomach growls from morning to night. He’s angry that he has to sleep on the sidewalk during the day because it’s too dangerous to sleep at night. He’s angry that the stoplight is red and not green. Raymond is always hungry.
Jasmine has had a tough life. Her beauty has been a curse, attracting men with less than honorable intentions, While too young to care, Jasmine had a child and was forced to give her up for adoption. Now, she trusts no one, has few friends whom she rarely sees, and only sees a future of isolation and lonliness. Jasmine seldom eats, partly by choice and partly by opportunity. Life is not kind.
Lily is 4. She is one of many children borne to homeless mothers. She is free to roam the nieghborhood in search of food. This is her “job” each day. Lily is hungry. Lily is angry.
Nick, the Marine:
Serving your country is gilded with glory, or at least that’s what Nick thought. Upon return, he found it impossible to work a full day without memories of fighting clouding his vision. Nick has several emotional issues to work through, but he is improving. After seeing, first-hand, crowds of people always hungry and always fearful in another world, he now sees the same crowds in this country. It’s too much to see and do nothing.