South Dakota Top Blogs

News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, December 28, 2020

Does Jesus drive an SUV?

 An image from my childhood is a strange man sitting on the steps of our back porch eating from a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon.  In those lingering years of the Great Depression, our house became known as a place where the indigent could get something to eat.  My mother always had a large supply of eggs from my uncles' farms, and she was generous about fixing eggs, bacon, and  toast for anyone who came to the door and asked for food.  It was a practice she inherited from my grandmother, who contended that someone who came to the door asking for food might be Jesus Christ stopping by to check if we were abiding by the Christian command to feed the hungry.  I also recall during the winter months when my mother would take me along one afternoon a week to deliver food baskets to the needy through a program her church was involved with.

I was raised during a time and in a place which operated under the principle that hunger was a shame to those able to feed the needy.  As a young man, I was a trainee for an advertising agency in Chicago whose task it was to hustle around town delivering copy and art work for clients' approval.  While doing so, I was constantly accosted by people asking for handouts.  I sometimes gave them some change when I had some to spare. When one of the agency executives learned of this, he gave all of us who trudged the streets for the agency books of tickets which we could give those who asked for handouts.  The tickets could be redeemed at a number of food kitchens that served the needy.  An organization which sponsored the tickets would then reimburse the kitchens for every ticket redeemed.  The system was a way to see that the hungry were fed snd that any money donated was not spent on alcohol.  Sometimes. the recipient of a ticket would crumple it or tear it up in indignation, but I felt at least that the person would not have to go hungry unless he chose to. 

During the time I was a newspaper farm editor, I was also on the board of deacons for a church, which was situated in an older part of town which was becoming populated by minority people who came to the town to find work in the factories.  The church took on the task of helping to distribute food to the needy in the neighborhood and see that elderly church members were getting healthy meals.  It became a  congregate meals site that served hot lunches to the elderly, a distribution point for meals on wheels, and provided a service that would do the grocery shopping for the elderly, particularly in the winter during hazardous weather.   At that time there was a food stamp program, but better known then was a commodity distribution program through which surplus food items were available.  The church arranged to participate in the distribution and provided cooking instruction sessions on making tasty and nutritious meals from the items.  As a farm editor, I was in constant contact with Department of Agriculture personnel who advised and assisted the church with its programs.  

Production at the factories at that time was seasonal, so there were times when workers were laid off and needed help in feeding their families.  Some congregation members  complained about the people who were constantly coming and going at the church, but a couple of stern sermons quieted them down.  However, the complainers formed a faction which started talk of firing the pastor because of his "extremely liberal" political views.  He soon resigned and was recruited by a church near Chicago that wanted him to organize a food program for their congregation.  The pastor who replaced him was enthusiastic about the church's involvement in feeding people and helped administer the program.  One of the board members complained that the church needed to hire a pastor, not a cafeteria manager.  But most of the deacons not only supported the food program, but actively participated in it.  I was among those who took grocery lists to the elderly, who would check off what they needed, and we would fill and deliver their orders to them.  A woman in the congregation who was a nutritionist reviewed the orders to insure that the people had healthy diets.  

  A food distribution site serving those who have lost jobs because of the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has made food programs essential to keeping the U.S, going.  Some of the distribution programs are massive with cars lining up for miles at distribution sites.  

My grandmother would be pleased to see this.  She would probably insist that Jesus drives an SUV.


Jake said...

David, your Grandma was "So right on"!! Curiousity makes me ask someone who may know off-hand: Did our Governor Noem put any amount of the Federal Covid money our state received ($1.25 billion) toward food to the needy? Or was it mostly thrown into the slop-trough filled for corporate and grifty individuals?

Porter Lansing said...


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States