As a young boy attending Sunday school, I remember being fascinated with the Bible story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish. My young brain simply couldn’t fathom how this was possible, and then my mother would remind me that with God all things are possible. This bit of parental wisdom probably helped to dispel my youthful pragmatism, but as I got a bit older I found that accepting these biblical miracles was a lot easier than trying to apply human reasoning to resolve my skepticism.
Do I still believe in miracles? Not only do I believe in miracles, I see them play out daily at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. I can’t say we have yet figured out how to feed 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread, but we have certainly fed 5,000 with 5,000 loaves — thanks to the generous donations from local stores, businesses and individuals. We have also been able to feed multitudes with over 50,000 pounds of fish coming into the Food Bank this past year. The miracle unfolding at the food bank may not be as stunning or dramatic as that which occurred on a remote Galilean hillside over 2000 years ago, it nonetheless happens in a quiet unpretentious way throughout the year.
The Food Banks mission statement: “We feed people — because no one deserves to go hungry” is not just some gimmicky eye catching phrase, it is embedded in the heart and soul of our existence. Having compassion on those less fortunate was a common theme of Jesus’ earthly ministry. The Food Bank’s mission, simply put, extends that theme to neighbors caring for neighbors — helping to nurture those in our community who, for whatever reason find themselves needing help with that most basic of all human commodities — food.
Food is a great equalizer — transcending race, ethnicity, status and culture. Regardless of our position in life we all need sustenance for survival. Even though we live in a rather affluent society, gaps exist in the distribution, access and availability of food to sustain our lives on a daily basis. This is where the Food Bank comes in — sharing the generosity of a compassionate community that wholeheartedly embraces our mission.
Not only do we distribute food, but through our Fireweed Diner, we provide a nutritious free meal daily with donations accepted gladly to buy napkins and other paper products, condiments and cleaning supplies. If you have ever visited our diner, you might be surprised to learn we are the only Food Bank in America with a companion dining facility where all food is prepared from both donations and/or home grown vegetables raised from our on-site garden/hoophouse.
It has been said that service to humanity is the best work of life. Even Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 25: talks about how we are to treat “the least of these, my brothers” (the sick, poor, hungry, downtrodden) as a reflection of how we regard Jesus himself. The Food Bank continues to make a difference in people’s lives within our community. You are welcome to stop by anytime to learn more about our mission, our services and our genuine commitment to make this a better community in which to live.
Jim Frates is the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank Warehouse Supervisor.