Feed The People, Ask Questions Later

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I was bustling around the kitchen.  Rice about finished in the rice cooker.  Banana bread cooling on the counter.  Meatloaf in the oven.  Salad being tossed.  What else do I need?  Oh yes, a bottle of wine.  And what’s for dessert?

My kids asked if I was making dinner early.  After all, it was only 2pm.  No, baby, we are taking food to Mr. and Mrs. X.

Why, Mom?

Children, if you learn one thing from me, let it be this: If you know someone who is rejoicing or mourning, show up with food.  

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15

My friend, who we call The Kitchen Madonna, says, “Feed the people.  Ask questions later.”

Feed The People, Ask Questions Later

Truth be told, I have found it a bit dismaying to see this civility become a lost art in our culture.  In the last few years I have attended my share of funerals and been at the bedside of several loved ones who were making that journey between this life and the Next.  I am also a doula and have been there with many women as they bring new life into the world.  In both those cases I have seen people come visit to say their good-byes or their hellos and bring nothing.  There have been time that there were no covered dishes, no cookies, not even take-out pizza.

The one birthing or dying or their intimate loved ones have been distracted, saying, “Can I get you something to eat?”  Wait a second!  Who should be feeding whom?  Oh dear.  What has happened to our society.

Can we revive this lost art?  Will you join me?

Hear some news that your neighbor had a baby?  Show up with a casserole.

Mommy in your church have a houseful of children with the chicken pox?  Some homemade biscotti and a box of special tea will be perfect!

A co-worker out with the flu? Homemade chicken soup does the trick every single time.

Your great aunt passed away?  Take your uncle a meatloaf and mashed potatoes, portioned out so that he doesn’t have to worry about meals for a few days.

Think of the immense good, the eternal value that exists in a basket of muffins, a pot of tea, a macaroni-and-cheese with smoked bacon.

“There are times when the food we share is a sign of connection and acceptance, times such as weddings, funerals, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, family reunions, and religious professions.  At these events food is a sign of unity and singleness of purpose.  In Latin, the word companion literally means to ‘break bread’ together.  No wonder the Eucharist has such power.  It is founded in our food experience, and our earliest experience of that is associated with warmth and touching.  Food is powerful.  It says ‘You belong here.’  It comforts.”  (Radical Hospitality, St. Benedict’s Way of Love by Homan and Pratt)

Perhaps you don’t know where to start or you feel awkward about walking across the street with a jello-mold.  You don’t live in Mayberry.

It really is easier than you think and I guarantee no one will turn you away.

  • If you can, let the recipient know the food is on the way.  I don’t usually ask; I tell.  The giving and receiving of food is such a lost art that people will often say no simply because they haven’t learned to receive.  So, I usually say something like, “I have made you a casserole.  Is 4pm a good time to drop it off?”
  • If you don’t have time to make a full meal, do not worry.  A plate of brownies, a basket of fruit, some delicious sandwiches, etc. will convey your heart just the same!
  • If you do have time to make a full meal, try to include those little extras that make it special.  Don’t stop at the main course.  Include the salad, dressing, dessert, after dinner mints, and a bottle of wine or sparkling cider.
  • Take your offering in a container that you don’t need returned.  Whether they are rejoicing or weeping one thing you don’t want to do is burden them with a dish that you’d be sad if they lost or broke.  Make sure you express to them that you want them to keep the containers.
  • If you don’t know them well, try to stay away from common allergens such as nuts and shellfish.  Or else call ahead and ask if they have any food aversions.
  • Also, try to stay away from things people commonly dislike.  Oh, foodies like us can forget that not everyone rejoices over a jar of pâté.  Spicy foods, organ meats, fishy fish, etc.  In cases like this, the point of the food is to convey love, support, comfort, and rejoicing–not to be a lesson in nutrition.
  • If you are taking your food to a hospital, nursing home, or anywhere away from their actual home, provide the forks, napkins and plates so that they can partake immediately.
  • If I’m bringing over multiple containers of food, I usually include a note with the menu listed and explained.
  • If you are accustomed to stocking your freezer with prepared meals, it can be a lovely gift to give someone a complete meal that they can enjoy now or keep in their freezer for a day they really need it.  Having those prepared meals on hand makes doing this very easy.

Feed The People, Ask Questions Later

Two years ago when my dear grandfather passed away, I showed up at my parents house (which is where he lived) and I started cooking.  Relatives from all over began to arrive.  Arrive and eat.  Nothing like sitting down over roast chicken and homemade bread and reminiscing about the past.  In preparation for the funeral I began to prepare antipasti, garlic bread, layered salads, baked ziti, cheesecakes.  Ladies from my parents’ church helped with prep and made dozens of cookies.  Some well-meaning relatives asked why I was doing so much and suggested that I just go to Costco and purchase some deli trays.  I smiled kindly and said, “Because that’s not how I roll.”

It was an act of love for my Grandpa whom I love and miss dearly (he loved to eat), for my Grandma, and for my Mom.  And, to be honest, it was something I did for myself.  I needed some good comfort food and cooking is therapeutic for me.  Not that it would be wrong to purchase food. But, just imagine if we didn’t have to.  Imagine if people came together and shared food again.

Feta Olive Tarts

Feta Olive Tarts

When you take someone food–especially food you prepared yourself–you are sharing yourself with them.  Food has a way of bringing people together.  Diners let their guards down over the appetizer.  Over the main course cares ease and the mind starts to be refreshed.  Over dessert and coffee people bond and heal and share their lives.  Sometimes it feels as if one had the right menu we could reconcile the world.

 ”I sometimes think the chef end of cooking is not the real end of cooking.  Cooking is all about homes and gardens, it doesn’t happen in restaurants.”  –Delia Smith

(Linked to Fantastic Thursday 49 and Fantastic Thursday 50,  Tasty Traditions, Fabulously Frugal ThursdayBloom DesignsHearts For Home HopA Lovely Blog HopThink Tank ThursdayFoodie Friends FridayOne Sharendipity Place From The FarmPin It MondayMaking Your Home SingMotivation MondayMostly Homemade MondayCreative HomeAcre HopYou’re Gonna Love It! and Tasty Traditions)


  1. Kitchen Madonna - March 19, 2014

    Dear Daja, you inspire me! I love all your well-thought out, soulful, precise recommendations. You are truly inspired. Miss keeping up with you here and there. Must email ! Hugs, Virginia

  2. Beautiful! My mom heads up a “new baby” food ministry where we make sure the mama and the rest of her family is fed for 1-2 weeks after a new baby is born.

  3. i love this piece and fortunately live in a neighborhood and go to a church that has not let this tradition die. My girls went to a mission morning event where the kids made casseroles and cookies to take home with them to give to a neighbor in need. The casseroles were covered with foil and had the directions written down on a label by the kids. Perfect for taking to the neighbor whose husband is about to deploy.

  4. This is how I was brought up!! Great how you gave instructions and ideas, as a pastor’s wife I have handed out that “list” many times over the years. Some people just don’t know and appreciate the advice. Well written!

  5. Hospitality within the church is dying for sure. (Selfishness? Wrong priorities?) Brothers and sisters in Christ can often become bitter and start gossiping soley for the fact that they are no longer invited by their church member friends. But that is so easy to fix isn’t it? Just invite people over for dinner or tea. One family at a time. Make that connection, show them you care, build that bridge. Sharing a meal with some one is sharing your life with them, and it means a lot. I know personally, I”m a lot closer to the people in my church who I”ve personally invited over to my home than those that I have not. And I also remember every single invite that my family has been to. And I even remember the food they served to the details. ;)

  6. Yes, this part of our culture is being lost but I think it’s still strong in the South but I could be wrong. Love the post and need to make a misc. board on Pinterest, so I can pin and send.

  7. Hi Daja, I would like to thank you for joining the Pin It Monday Hop Pinterest Party. The party has just started, please come by sometime, if your time permits, to see more what other bloggers are sharing. See you

  8. Such a fantastic post! I can’t tell you how much I look forward to reading your posts every week on Motivation Monday. This one sent chills up my arms.

    Hospitality – feeding people – has become a lost art. I’m still saddened by the fact that in 7 years of having 4 kids, none of our family members brought a meal to help us out during the first week.

    Thank you for the reminder that it can begin with me.

  9. Beautiful post and reminder. We do this at our church! Thank you for sharing with Foodie Friends Friday. Hope to see you next week on our Fruit Party!

  10. We are kindred spirit, you and I. Love this! Thanks for sharen with us at One Sharendipity Place this weekend! We’re now your newest followers! :)

    Sue @ thet2women.com

    • Always a joy to meet another who won’t let the art of meal sharing die! :-)

      We always enjoy linking up with your site. It’s a very inspirational place!

  11. You are so right, this is a lost art. I, too, didn’t really understand, until I had my twins. I could barely function at that point (they were #’s 4 and 5, and everyone else was 8 and under), and my church blessed me like this. I can’t TELL you what a blessing it was!

  12. Natalie - June 14, 2013

    I never understood this principle till I had my first baby. I was so blessed by our church; dear friends and strangers bringing me so much wonderful food. My favorites were the ones with those special extras: muffins for breakfast the next day or cookies for dessert. Since then, I campaign heavily for new moms to accept help from their friends, but I notice that it is a struggle to get the care calendars to fill up. It’s very sad that this is not more of a priority for believers! Now that our income is reduced, I can understand why folks would feel possibly burdened by taking there food–if you are struggling to feed your own little ones…but, there again, if everyone was pitching in what they can–would be easier to serve those around us. Great post!!

  13. “When you take someone food–especially food you prepared yourself–you are sharing yourself with them”
    It is sooooooooooo true!! I love baking and when I bake for someone I do feel like I’m sharing myself with him

    • That’s exactly my case too !

      People know me for my cakes and chocolate truffles. If I have a friend who needs comfort, usually, I appear with some pastry at their door.
      I don’t handle well stressful situations, or others’ sorrow. I never know what to say/do. So usually, I feed my friends.

  14. Serena - June 13, 2013

    Reading a day late. Happy Birthday, Grandpa. There really is nothing like bringing food to show someone you care.

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