I know that I may come across as pious – railing against Big Food / Processed Food. The fact of the matter is, I am blessed. I am blessed to have a choice. Blessed to be housed and well fed. Everyone should be so blessed. Sadly, they are not.
I personally, have never looked directly in the face of hunger. I have helped those that have, I have seen the face of hunger, which by the way, is quite different than being the face of hunger.
Early this morning I headed to the market. Shopping for ‘real’ food was on my mind. I scored 5 pounds of Organic Ground Beef for $5. a pound. Organic carrots, Organic Broth, Organic Broccoli, apples and peaches.
I got in line to check out behind a tall black man with a large cart of food. I was in no hurry, so I didn’t even think to switch lines. I watched him unload his groceries, he checked the total often. Toward the end of his cart, he asked the checker to stop and total his order. Looking at the total, he glanced into the cart, paced a little bit and then shrugged his shoulders. He apologized to the cashier. He had reached his max, he would have to return the rest. He looked back at me and apologized for the delay.
It struck me, it was the middle of the month and this family had run out of money for food.
I looked at what was left behind in his cart. There were items to make meals! A large package of chicken legs, a bag of potatoes, 2 cans of Pasta sauce, a package of pasta, a package of Italian seasoned Ground Turkey, a package of cheese. Store brand Grits, yogurt, hot dogs and a cheap package of cookies.
He had obviously shopped carefully.
“Sir, can I please pay for the rest of your groceries.” I said, with my eyes fogging up.
“What? Really? You don’t have to do that!”
“I know I don’t HAVE to, but I would like to, because I can. Please, allow me to do this.” I glanced away, I was about to cry. I didn’t want him to see my tears.
We quickly unloaded the rest of the groceries and explained to the cashier.
“You have blessed my family, Thank You.”
All I could choke out was, “You are welcome. Thank You for letting me do this.” as I looked down and punched in my PIN to pay for the groceries.
I am ashamed to say that I didn’t know what more to say to him. I should have looked him in the eye and wished him well. I could have said, “Good job, Dad.”. I could have shook his hand.
The last thing I heard was, “Thank You.”
I looked up too late, he was gone.
I was embarrassed, by my emotion and inability to put those emotions into words. I should have wished him well and told him that he blessed me far more than I blessed him. I hope he knows that.
$26.27 bought this man’s family at least 4 dinners and a few snacks. Hopefully, it brought him some faith in humanity. It brought me joy and blessings. I wish I could have expressed that to him.
We have all heard of ‘Pay it Forward‘. I must say, it is far easier to Pay it Forward in the line at Starbucks, for those who can afford their coffee, than it is in the line of the grocery store when looking into the face of hunger.
If you get the opportunity and have the means, please pay it forward. You will be blessed.