Measures of need

Last week the Grendel family were responsible for our local bread delivery and he wrote an insightful post based on his observations from that evening.

The essence of it was that despite the booming WA economy, the demand for free bread seems to have increased and the desperation of people coming to get it has also escalated.

This week it was our turn to pick up and distribute. We arrived at 6.45pm to a crowd of around 30 people – apparently half the size of last week when the Grendel’s were on. Several came to ‘help’ us unload – some to help – others to get first grab. The teenage kids were there ready to pounce on the sweets and the adults were hovering more politely but still eager to get their share. As hands grabbed for bags it was case of the strongest getting what they wanted first.

After being called back from the pile Danelle heard one young boy tell his mates ‘F*ck the adults’ and dove in to help himself. I’m glad I didn’t hear it because I feel grumpy today and I probably would have grabbed him by the collar and thrown him out.

It was a little disturbing to see people jostling and bumping to get a bit more than the person next to them. I’m sure some of it is because they are doing it tough, but there also seems to be a ‘stuff you’ attitude among some (which ironically is possibly why they are doing it tough…)

Within 5 minutes the sizable pile of bread was gone and we were back in the car and driving home…

I wonder how long it will be before there is some real conflict down there as people chase down the premium bread and the more robust push the less able to the back of the queue.

I always think its a shame if you have to ‘bring order’ to adults, but I can see a real possibility that we may need to get people to queue up and recieve a certain amount to ensure everyone gets a fair go and no one gets hurt.

6 thoughts on “Measures of need

  1. We do need to think about how we approach it now there is an ‘edge’ to the hunger.

    An indoor venue would be best – or at least one where the bread comes in one way, and those who need it from another.

    Kinda spoils the whole feel of what we have now though.

  2. Is it possible that when Jesus fed the crowds he got them to sit down (and chill out) and have it distributed by his disciples? Maybe that’s a story worth reflecting on. I’m sure it’s easier said than done too…but there’s always enough to go round in the economy of God.

  3. Hey Hamo, I am also involved in a weekly meal for the homeless, poor and lonely here in Melbourne called The Dining Room – we’re getting at least 90-100 people a week – including families, kids and all to older and aged folk. Unfortunatelyt the number is only growing and we have just had two weeks in a row serving over 100 folk from all walks of life.

    The local bakery and dougnut shop also supply us for the night and we are pretty strict about ensuring that the bread etc is only handed out at a certain time, in an orderly manner, to a line up, with volunteers who ensure that it get’s spread evenly.

    The point here being that it needs to be structured and order maintained. We know that there are folk who take advantage of the system but we also know that there are many, many others who for them this is a main highlight of their week – and a safe place for a decent hot meal.

    These strict controls were brought in due to many stronger types taking advantage of the weaker ones.

    Contrast that to another bread run that a neighbour gets that is available to the neighbourhood – where the bread is pled on a large table and then it is a free-for-all to get the best (to invited folk). What makes this even sadder is that the folks who fight and jostle here could afford to buy their bread.

    So yeah I would have to agree with Simon above that Jesus had the crowd sit and chill while the meal was handed out….

    God Bless you guys in this work!

  4. Nothing like freebies to bring out the ugly side of people.

    Even our army, when it distributes food, water etc after disasters forces people to queue and maintain order, or places limits e.g. x litres of water per person/family etc., no ‘wholesalers’.

  5. I don’t think it was about control for Jesus, it was more about sharing. What if you made a rule that whatever someone grabbed they had to give away to someone else? Maybe that’s impractical, but it’d be an interesting experiment.

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