Feeding the Three Million

JESUS stands overlooking a huge crowd, all come to hear him – and his heart goes out to them.

The people are exhausted, hungry, the disciples say.

Send them away 'to buy themselves something to eat'.

'Give them something to eat yourselves,' says Jesus.

The disciples are taken aback.

'Are we,' they say, 'to go and spend twenty pounds on bread to give them a meal?' (Mark 6: 34-36).

When we read this story, we may be so taken with the miracle of feeding the Five Thousand, that we fail to notice Jesus' challenging words: 'Give them something to eat yourselves.'

There's an implicit message here for all of us: Do your part – give what you can, even if it seems inadequate at the time.

Even a small act of caring.

You may well be astonished by what will follow.

In 2013 over 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust food banks – triple the 2012 figure.

Trussell Trust launches two new food banks weekly.

For the poorest in today's Foodbank Britain, the economic safety net is fragile indeed.

A part-time worker becomes disabled.

A serious illness, or a broken-down car, brings sudden unaffordable cost to a family on the breadline.

Most commonly, welfare payments, for whatever reason, get delayed – sometimes for weeks.

For someone on £70 a week unemployment benefit, even a suspension to review their circumstances can spell disaster.

Food banks are a stopgap only.

We all could campaign for a more efficient, more dignified benefits system – and for a Living Wage for employees.

Then people wouldn't have to go begging to social workers for referral to food banks.

This, surely, would be our best long-term approach to helping today's Five Thousand?

'Anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did for me.' Matthew 25.40.

For local food bank details: (01453) 367077 / info@strouddistrict.foodbank.co.uk