The Simple Gift of Providing Your Protesters a Meal
I am a protester. Following the killing of George Floyd in my hometown of Minneapolis, I seem to have found myself on a platform for justice in front of hundreds of people. I have tasked myself and answered the call to stand in the gap of those who have walked this journey many times and those who have never stepped foot on the path of reconciliation. My goal is to help people take their first step in the fight for racial justice.
Every day I find the times of protests, drop-off sites, cleanup crews who need volunteers, and businesses that need donations. For the first several days, I marched. I marched for miles and for hours and every time I went out, I made sure to bring new people to the cause.
After a couple of days, I could no longer walk because blisters had formed over the balls of both of my feet. My fatigue began to set in, and I felt the weight of my physical and emotional exhaustion. This fight is a marathon steadily running uphill. I was losing energy, and words of encouragement could only do so much to keep me pushing forward.
I had not publicly expressed this fatigue, but when I arrived home from a protest, after being frustrated that I had to stop due to the physical pain of my feet, my roommate informed me someone had brought something for me. I stepped into my kitchen, and the warm aroma of Indian food greeted me like an old friend. "She brought you a meal, so you didn't have to cook tonight." I was moved because, in my single-minded, tunnel-vision focus, I could not ascertain my own needs. I did not know that what I needed was so simple. An action that said, "I see you. I know you're tired, and you're losing energy; take this to help you keep going." As I devoured this generous gift, I thanked God for looking out for me when I didn't have the energy or the capacity to look out for myself.
If marching, donating money, or cleaning the city are not things you feel called to do, that's OK. If you are the type of person that understands the deep connection food and community has, then good news! There is a job for you and a call to action.
The people on the front lines need your help. The less energy they have to spend at home, the more energy they can put into the community. Fresh food is glorious, especially when your body is emptied from marching for miles under the intensity of direct sunlight. There's something beautiful about fresh fruit or vegetables. Packing snacks to go that are full of protein is another great contribution.
I know for me personally, when I go out to a protest, I am gone for several hours at a time, if not the entire day. Power-snacks have been life-savers. Breakfasts are big and something that not a lot of people think about when packing meals for others. It's the most important meal of the day, and it's also the meal that's skipped because sleep feels more beneficial than waking early enough to prepare breakfast for yourself.
Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, meals that can be frozen and heated up later are a must! The first day I finally asked for meal help, we were flooded with meals that had to be eaten this week; otherwise, they would spoil and go to waste, which defeats the purpose! Frozen meals are easy, quick and can be eaten whenever we need them.
The most important thing to remember regarding all of these different meal giftings is to communicate with the activist you are giving to. Don't ask them what they need in an open-ended question; they're short on energy, remember? You don't want to put more pressure on them. Instead, give them a choice: "Would you prefer fresh food, takeout or a frozen meal?" Whatever the response, understand that we are grateful for the support. As always, be safe and if you can't do that, be smart.