Does the name Jose Andres mean anything to you?? You are forgiven if it doesn’t. You’d have to be a die-hard “foodie” to recognize his name. Jose is a Michelin-starred chef who is widely credited with bringing the concept of “small plate” dining to America. He owns well-known restaurants in nearly ten cities across the country. He also chairs the advisory board for “L.A. Kitchen”, a social enterprise in Los Angeles aimed at reducing food waste, job training, and nutritious eating.
He would be a person much to be admired just for that. But the most important meals he is serving today are free. You see after Hurricane Maria decimated Puerto Rico—so many of whom still have no power coming up on three months now—Jose set up portable kitchens—20 of them--and began cooking stews and paella for the storm-torn region.
To date, he has served over 3 million hot meals—more than any other relief agency. One person, one passion, one heart to serve people in need. That’s truly all it takes.
How about something more local? I give you “The Real Mamas of Mt. Juliet”. Catchy name, isn’t it? Four women—four mothers—who recognized an issue that no one was addressing and decided to engage. These aren’t “activists” looking for a fight. These are real moms who noticed that many students in their local, public school were being singled out and ridiculed over the federal lunch program.
Each student was expected to pay a portion of their meal program funded through the federal government. Many of these students couldn’t make a payment and the connection between hunger and poor performance in school is well-documented. So when these students couldn’t make the payment, they were then sent to the principal who provided for them “an alternative snack”. Until these students could pay off their “debt”, they would remain in the “alternative” program and forbidden to eat with the other students.
So what did these moms do? They decided that feeding every hungry student in their local school might be more than they could manage, but they COULD find ways to pay off the debts of those students who had debts. They made decorative sweatshirts and began selling them. Now, other local businesses are selling those sweatshirts on their behalf.
Four mothers seeing a need not being addressed and being moved with compassion. That’s all it takes to change the world.
As we enter the third week of Advent, can you find some God-sightings to share?