We’re entering the months of feasting. We’ll be noisily gathering around our Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas tables, crowded with gorgeous dishes brimming, celebrating the season of harvest and abundance. Many of us will be attending holiday cocktail parties and New Year’s celebrations. Homes will be filled with the seductive aromas of pies and cookies baking. Many will complain of their widening waistlines, unable to resist the temptations found in candy jars, on cookie plates, on platters piled with rich foods, and swimming in gravy boats. It’s a season of feasting, and for many of us, it’ a time of too-much-of-a-good-thing.
Sadly, in the starkest of contrasts, it’s also a time when one out of five Americans is living with food insecurity or in outright hunger. A third of these are children, and many are our elderly. (Tragically, in 40 of our 50 states the food-insecurity rate among children is a full 20-percent!) During these wintry months, many of our neighbors are faced with an impossibly difficult choice: to try to warm their homes or to ease the aching emptiness in their stomachs and those of their children. This is the season of dire want and un-met needs.
It’s with these contrasts in mind that our family has decided to put a little something extra on our table. It’s a simple mason jar.
During the next two months, once each week in this season of plenty, we’re opting to eat a dinner of rice and beans. Whatever we calculate we’ve saved on such a meal, we’ll drop into the jar. We’ll empty our pockets of change, and add extra to it as we’re able. And together with our children, we’ll take our jars full, along with extra canned foods, to our local food bank or shelter.
For any of you interested, please consider this an invitation.
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We can do this. We can feed another.
It’s only a small sacrifice, and not at all a hardship.
Fortunately, cultures all over the world have shared their delicious traditions for combining these humble (and highly nutritious) ingredients. Every Wednesday during the next two months, I’ll be posting a different rice and beans recipe borrowed from various traditions, some from very close to home, others half the planet away. The first of these will appear tomorrow.
If any of you have a favorite rice and beans dish, I’d be so grateful to hear about it. You can write me at email@example.com.
And if you or your family have a tradition for helping to feed the less fortunate among us – won’t you please share it? We could all use a little inspiration!
Thank you so much!
P.S. If you know anyone who might be interested in joining us, will you please extend the invitation?