Posted by: Chris Sandel | December 19, 2008

Food in America

Last year our church put on A Different Kind of Christmas and Melissa and I were a big part of that.  It was an effort that ended with our church coming together to give nearly $130,000 to our adopted community in Nairobi, Kenya.  (For more on the project and Melissa and I’s trip to Kenya, visit our A Different Kind of November blog.)

This year we wanted to focus our efforts more locally and this past weekend our church wrapped up most of our Christmas Outreach, Feed 500.  Our goal was to collect food baskets to deliver to 500 families in need in our Springfield area.  At first glance 500 families doesn’t seem like much for a church the size of West Side but when you multiply it out, our goal was really to provide 30,000 meals this Christmas.

 This outreach was very different than last year’s but I think it was just as impactful.  It was awesome seeing so many people coming together to shop for food, knock on doors for food drives, sort stuff, stack boxes, count items, etc.  It really was a hands on event and there is something about working hard and getting your hands dirty that leaves a lasting impact.  You can read a few testimonies on our website as well as church out some pictures

Some of my personal highlights were from our Jr. High Fuel Small Groups.  On the first Wednesdayof December we sent our kids out to do a food scavenger hunt and our Jr. High students ended up collecting over 500 boxes of pop tarts, nearly 300 boxes of cereal and several hundred dollars.  Then, the second Wednesday of December was our final collection day so about 65 of our leaders and students (it was even a low night because we had a lot of kids gone for a playoff basketball game) counted, sorted and moved almost 9,000 food items (several thousand pounds) from our worship center into our main food room.  It is a site to see when Jr. High students, with all of their energy, get set to a simple task.  As soon as I explained things and let them go they descended upon that food like locusts (or like it was covered in pizza) and everything was totally done in less than an hour.  Driving home from group that night I felt as fulfilled about our ministry as I’ve felt in a while.

Hearing some of the testimonies afterward has been cool.  It sounds like the project may have been most impactful for our families who were able to serve alongside of one another.  They were able to get a glimpse of poverty that many of them don’t see much of on this side of town.  It has made me think about how we approach ministry to our families in the future.  We’ll have to figure out how we can get them serving alongside one another more often.

On a some what related note, I ran across this blog this week: One Dollar Diet Project.  A couple of teachers decided to do an experiment and see what it would take only spend one dollar per day on their food.  It doesn’t sound that complicated but it ended up being pretty difficult. 


 Their day one diet:

Breakfast: 1 cup cooked oatmeal – $0.06

Lunch: PB and J sandwich on homemade bread – $0.36,  2cups popped popcorn with salt – $0.07

Dinner: 2 Bean and Rice Burritos – $0.42 ( Beans – $0.07, Rice -$0.11, Tortillas – $0.05ea., small strips of Lettuce – $0.07, 1 TBSP taco sauce – $0.12)

Dessert: 1TBSP Peanut butter – $0.05

Total: $0.96

Seeing so many people grateful for things as simple as groceries and seeing how tough it is to survive on so little ($1 per day is actually the average income in our adopted Kenyan community) it is tough to think about Christmas and “stuff” the same way.


  1. Good post – and great job to Christopher and Kerri for their efforts.

    When I was in Tajikistan for a mission trip, I saw first-hand how people somehow lived on less than $2.15 USD a day. It was a life-changing experience, to say the least.

    As I gear up for my next trip, this time to Zambia, I am called to take part in a bit of a social experiment also. For Zambians, living on just $1 a day is the norm and I hope that this project will help better educate me and those around me on the reality of poverty.

    All are welcome to come check out our progress:

    We’re adding a few different spins to it but welcome all suggestions.


  2. […] What was your biggest achievement of the year? – If you’re not picking up on the theme yet…my wife is pregnant. – As far as ministry goes, highlights have been our first ever summer student leader mission trip, significantly more adult small group leaders (especially dads) and our Feed 500 Christmas outreach. […]

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