This is a sweet story of a small kindness on which to end a week filled with continuing stories of war and wretchedness on the world stage.
A young woman standing in the checkout line at a supermarket saw the young mother with a small child ahead of her begin to set aside several items she had intended to buy. Clearly between her food stamps and the money she had in hand, she could not pay for all of it. So the milk and fruit and other fresh produce were slowly removed, leaving just canned goods and tortillas and similar pantry staples in her cart. The cashier called for help to get the items back to the shelves.
The young woman watching this unfold quickly stepped forward, and speaking softly in Spanish to keep the conversation as private as possible, asked the flustered mother, who looked to be about her own age, if she still wanted those fresh items. She nodded. “But I cannot afford them all.”
“Would you let me make a New Year’s gift of those items to you?” asked the young woman.
“God bless you,” said the mother, holding her child close. Close to tears, she said again, “God bless you.”
“Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. . . .India has, for example, destroyed millions of tons of grains, permitting food to rot in silos, while the quality of food eaten by India’s poorest is getting worse for the first time since Independence in 1947. . . .In the United States in 2005, 35.1 million people didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. At the same time there is more diet-related disease like diabetes, and more food, in the U.S. than ever before. It’s easy to become inured to this contradiction; its daily version causes only mild discomfort, walking past the ‘homeless and hungry’ signs on the way to supermarkets bursting with food.” Raj Patel. Stuffed and Starved.
Every now and again we are given the opportunity to be a little less inured.