Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hunger isn't really the issue.

Pretty bold title for a man whose stated mission in Life is to end world hunger.  In Truth, up to this point, those words have really been a type of social shorthand (and further Truth be told, a little attention getting for the early stages of this journey). Now before you spit out your soup, let me tell you, what I mean. A very talented chef friend of mine (thanks Stan F. wherever you are) once told me his philosophy about bringing his very accomplished talents and creative ideas back to his home area, where the people might not have been prepared to appreciate (and in turn support) his culinary ambitions. He said that the first thing to do is to give the folks what they’re familiar with (in the best way imaginable) until they’re comfortable enough to trust you. Then you can start introducing new ideas, flavors, etc.
And so it is with soup… sort of. Don’t worry (or in the genius words of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic”) By the time I’m through, everyone will be fed, where and when they need; it’s just that (as I titled) hunger isn’t really the issue.
The technical (or dare I say industry) term for what I address through Soup Kitchen is “food insecurity”. It simply means that someone doesn’t know where (and often when) their next meal is coming from. Now if I was to come out saying, I’m out to end world food insecurity” most people would probably think I was auditioning for the next Woody Allen movie. Well I’m not (unless he really thinks I’m right for the part), it’s just that for now, ending “hunger” is the term that everyone who doesn’ t do this work full time already, is used to; and I’d rather have you understand what I’m (and ultimately we’re) doing, than quibble over terms.
In fact (pretty bold statement number 2 for this blog), hunger is a good  thing. I have yet to meet the person on this planet who is so self-regulated in their habits, that they never get hungry. Most times I look forward to being hungry because it means that I’m about to eat something. Chef work-wise, I am usually never more than a few feet away from something to feed on. I spent one day as an office worker in my life and was utterly confused by the lack of readily available food. All psycho analysis that is above my pay-grade anyway aside, hunger is simply a signal that it’s time to eat.
Soup Kitchen, Inc. takes that signal and turns it into a kind of nutritious empathy. If you are reading this, then you are probably on the side of the empathy link where you do know (or at least have a good idea) where/when your next “feed” is coming from. I for one don’t need to go/stay hungry to understand hunger, although I do respect the central idea in Ramadan; don’t eat during the day and then break your fast at sunset. You have the day to get an experiential understanding of those in need and then the reminder of your own personal blessings of self-sustainment.
That being said, I have even more respect for the idea expressed by Ernest Holmes (in his book of metaphysical essays, “The Science of Mind”) “The World has learned All it should through suffering.” If I’m disappointed in anything, it’s that we as humans, haven’t simply learned to care for each other. Fortunately, Soup does that (whether you care or not). (In case you don’t know by now). For each portion of soup sold ( a portion of soup is donated to someone in need. There, caring all done.
All I’m really doing is instilling a habit that’s been  there (albeit buried sometimes) all along (and making it taste real good), with the belief that our strength (as in the strong survive kind) lies in numbers not in individual accomplishment.
And the biggest number I can think of is All of Us.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Welcome to the Conversation

For those of you finding your way here (and a sincere welcome to you for that) without knowing anything about me, here's a brief intro to "The Conversation".For those of you who are already part of the story (and in Truth, we are ALL part of this story in one voice or another), here's an easy way to share it with those you care about.

What it's about (in form) is ending world hunger, through the process of Soup Kitchen, Inc. ( Yes there will be a modicum of plugging within the blogging, but you'll soon see that it's about much more than any personal or professional gain. The way it works is simple. For every portion of soup sold, an equal portion of soup is donated to someone in need. If you eat, someone in need eats. Done! As there are more people on our little blue-green ball that can feed themselves than cannot, the math is on our side as a practical solution/demonstration to what has appeared to be an insurmountable issue.

Now that that's handled, let's get into what "The Conversation" is really about.

It's about the fact that with over 6 billion people on the planet, we are probably here to be a supportive part of the process known as humanity. Some call it Compassion, some Unconditional Love, some The Golden Rule. I call it Lunch (Let Us Now Care Humanely) or Dinner (Doing Intentional Noshing Nourishes Everyone Responsibly).

There's an ingredient in the soup which isn't listed on the label (and unfortunately, the FDA hasn't even begun to explore the nutritional value of this one). I call it "intentional eating". Picture yourself sitting down to a well deserved, delicious, hunger and soul satisfying bowl of soup..... simply because you can. Now add to each spoonful you enjoy, the knowledge that, as you nourish yourself, you are also nourishing someone else in exactly the same way. Now multiply that knowing by however many spoonfulls it takes to finish the bowl. All of  a sudden, eating becomes an act of helping, an act of caring, an act of simple human respect and compassion... and you haven't even left the table. The act repeated soon becomes a habit (helpful soup hint: the bigger the bowl, the sooner the habit is ingrained), and our habits are simply an outward extension of our beliefs. Now head out of the house, into your day, with a well nourished habit of intentional, compassionate, caring for others and just imagine how your day is changed, not to mention the change in the day of those that compassion is directed towards.

You see, we don't need to spend out time trying to teach/convince people that we should treat each other better (and this is coming from a man who is moments away from getting his ministerial license). With the right process in place, the act can be automatic.

In my smarmier moments, I say I started Soup Kitchen, so that even if you never lifted a finger or gave a dime to help someone, even if you didn't care at all, you can still help.

Of course the goal of all of this is to live in a world where things like Soup Kitchen, Inc are the norm, where purpose drives profit, a world of bridges, not fences, a world where it is all only us.

Thanks for joining "The Conversation of Soup". Its about all of us.

"Together we can change the way the world helps" - Jamie Klein