Breaking bread in the new year

Breaking bread in the new year

There’s always room at the table.

I’m thinking about food. That’s not unusual for me, but it’s not because I’m hungry. My thoughts are much more random than that.

I’m still giggling about my husband Kirt’s definition of “resourceful” to our son Elijah. They were working on Elijah’s Cub Scout book and when defining resourceful, Kirt said, “Like mom, when she looks into the refrigerator and makes dinner from what she sees.” I think this could be in direct response to the macaroni and cheese that cleaned out all the aging cheeses and several vegetables that blended in.

I am a resourceful cook and 85 percent of the time it is scrumptious, and the other 15 percent develops character. We have an expanding table and it is not uncommon for us to have a crew around it. The kid’s friends know when they eat at our house they don’t have to like the food, but they do have to try it. Folks drop in and our motto is that there is always enough.

[Opinion: In the new year, instead of raking leaves, let’s turn one over]

I like feeding people. My mom is an amazing cook and my grandma was an amazing and resourceful cook so it’s in our DNA. There is something wonderful about cooking that makes me feel like I am bringing order in the chaos and doing something concrete after a somewhat nebulous day as a pastor.

I refuse to show up to lunch meetings without food for the folks present. It’s weird, but I am greatly distracted by my own rumbling tummy that I want to help us all be fully present for the business at hand. It seems like there are all kinds of Jesus-y implications around sharing bread together and I don’t really need to lay all those out.

Six years ago, many of the food pantries and the food bank started meeting monthly to ease some of the tension and misconceptions about assisting with food insecurity. One out of five people in Juneau will be food insecure at some point during the year and seek help through one of the food pantries. There are at least eight food pantries in town and you can find the updated hours on the United Way Southeast Alaska website. Many of the agencies who provide emergency food in Juneau are talking to each other and figuring out how we can fill some of the gaps. We don’t meet monthly anymore, but we still try to check-in at least once a year.

[Finding life in the dirt]

As we begin a new year it is a good time to review our values:

• Improve our community through interconnection of services

• Provide access to sustainable nutritious daily food and distribute surplus food better

• Create opportunities for human connection

That last value is as important as the others. Food is where we often gather and where some experience their greatest loneliness.

There are few things that I feel passionate about: Jesus, family, friends, coffee, ping pong, hiking and food. Maybe not in that order depending on the day. I am willing to stake not only my table, but my life on the fact that there is always room at the table and there is always enough. Sometimes we just need to be more resourceful.

• Tari Stage-Harvey is pastor of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church. “Living & Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.

More in Neighbors

Recognitions for the week of March 19

Juneau students earn academic honors

This photo shows AWARE’s 2023 Women of Distinction (left to right) Kate Wolfe, Jennifer Brown, LaRae Jones and Susan Bell. (Courtesy Photo)
Thank you letter for the week of March 19, 2023

Thank you, merci, danke, gracias, gunalchéesh.

During winter 2022-23, contractors replace the awning structure on the 1904-1913 Valentine Building. The historic building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Its location at the corner of Front and Seward streets is also within Juneau’s Downtown Historic District. (Laurie Craig / For the DBA)
Rooted in Community: The historic Valentine Building and the Findley Family

Many shops have occupied the Seward Street storefronts while Juneau Drug anchors the corner space.

Rotary Club of Juneau recently announced recipients of Annual Vocational Service Awards. They were Marjorie Menzies, Marc Wheeler,The Financial Reality Fairs’ Sponsors and Organizers,The Teal Street Center and Juneau’s Legislative Delegation  (Sen. Jesse Kiehl, Rep. Sara Hannan and Rep. Andi Story. (Courtesy Photo)
Rotary Club of Juneau presents Annual Vocational Service Awards

Each year, the Rotary Club of Juneau’s Vocational Service Awards, honor businesses,… Continue reading

Jane Hale (Courtesy Photo)
Coming Out: A brief desultory digression

Wisdom in Willie and Waylon and veritable virtue in Virgil.

"Bald pride abounds," writes Geoff Kirsch. "In fact, a Bald Men Club of Japan holds an annual Bald Man Competition. In this Olympic-style international tournament, two men stick suction cups to their heads, attached to a single red rope, and then attempt to pull off their opponent’s cup, tug-of-war style. Better start training for next year; I wonder what the rules say about Spider Tack…" (Unsplash /  Chalo Garcia)
Slack Tide: The good, the bald and the ugly

A look at merely a few benefits of being bald…

Laura Rorem (Courtesy Photo)
Living & Growing: Finding strength in vulnerability

Vulnerability is at the heart of being human.

Matthew Schwarting, a Montessori Borealis Public School seventh grader, recently won the Juneau School District's spelling bee. (Courtesy Photo)
7th grader maneuvers into top spot at spelling bee

The Juneau School District recently held its annual district spelling bee.

Alaskan Brewing Co. staff presents a check to Southeast Alaska Food Bank director Chris Schapp on Tuesday as part of the company’s “Cheers to the Southeast Alaska Food Bank!” celebration. The evening also celebrated the selection of Alaskan Brewing Co. next year recipient SEADOGS. (Courtesy Photo / Erin Youngstrom)
Alaskan Brewing Co. selects 2023 nonprofit partner, donates $8,000 to food bank

Tasting Room event celebrates 2022 donation to Southeast Food Bank.

Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire File 
A long line of residents stand with bags in hand, digging through scarce supplies on a rainy Tuesday afternoon in Juneau at the Southeast Alaska Food Bank. Next Saturday, Juneau’s Rotary clubs are teaming up to help collect food for the food bank.
Rotary clubs team up to fight hunger

Next Saturday, the Juneau-Gastineau and Glacier Valley Rotary clubs will join forces… Continue reading

Adam Bauer
Living & Growing: Faith and addressing climate change

It is an honor to live in this homeland of the Áak’w… Continue reading

spelling bee
Slack Tide: Bee-ing and nothingness

It’s hip to bee square.