By Don Johnson, Zion United Church of Christ, Gresham, Oregon

I once read Native Americans call this time of the year the Hunger and Starvation Moons. I don’t know if this is true or if it’s Hollywood. It is true, however, that this time of year is a time of hunger if you are homeless, jobless, broke, physically disabled, mentally disabled, or all of the above.

During the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, we are very generous and give food and funds to help feed people who cannot feed themselves. After the holiday season, we tend to relax and give less than we did before. Because of this pattern of giving, food pantries and kitchens are often short of food during the months after the holidays.

We at Zion United Church of Christ in Gresham learned about this problem when a woman from St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Gresham told us about their food kitchen during a “Mission Moment” in our Sunday service. Our Social Action Team decided to help. We asked our congregation to cut and freeze their Thanksgiving turkey carcasses, along with left over turkey from their family dinner. We also welcomed whole turkeys. During the week after Thanksgiving, we boiled turkey carcasses, skimmed the broth, and added onions, celery, carrots and herbs. We poured the soup into one-gallon bags for the freezer. Now the soup must simply be thawed, and noodles, rice, barley or dumplings can be added to make a delicious, hot meal in this cold hungry time.

The congregation at Zion is very small, but we have several bags of frozen soup, three frozen whole turkeys, and a ham—all ready for St. Henry’s food kitchen. We will likely use the whole turkeys and ham to make soup, as we can feed more people this way.

The Social Action Team at Zion hopes to make this a yearly event, and we plan to help at the food kitchens in our area through the months of January, February, and March (the Hunger and Starvation Moons.) We invite other congregations to help with this seasonal problem. A congregation might donate frozen turkeys and hams during the holidays, when they’re on sale. Take advantage of “buy one, get one free.” If your family is homeless and hungry, free is a very good thing.

God has already blessed most of us with more than we need, and I believe we are asked to take care of the poor and the hungry.

God bless you all.

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