Soul Food: Addressing Food Insecurity
Last month, students of Towson Hillel, a Jewish student organization at Towson University, gathered to learn about food insecurity in Baltimore and hand-write hundreds of inspirational notes. Each note will accompany a bag of food that is distributed by the Baltimore Hunger Project. These food packages are discreetly given to school children to take home every weekend when the children do not have access to food at school, and their morale may be low.
As Jews, we understand the power that food and words of encouragement have when it comes to preparing to face another week. Every Friday night for Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, it is customary to gather around the dining room table with family, friends, and even strangers, to share a meal. The food is replenishing, and the effort the host puts into the preparation is a tangible sign of care. During the meal, the head of the household traditionally delivers words of wisdom related to the Torah, our holy bible. These words are often reminders of how to act, allowing us to internally recalibrate to be our best selves. Just as Shabbat is a weekly gift to Jews, preparing us to face each new week with energy and spirit, the Baltimore Hunger Project is a gift to children and families facing food insecurity, providing them with meals and encouragement to get them through the week.
The Hillel students enjoyed taking the time to write and decorate the notes. At first, students were not sure what to write, but soon enough they were calling out positive phrases and motivational messages all throughout the room. Students also enjoyed adding their own decorative flair by using colorful markers and glitter paint. The Hillel students hope that the food packages and notes can invoke a kind of “Sabbath” of nutritious food and nourishing soul-food, inspiring students to hold their heads up high the coming week.