Soup it Forward with Inasmuch
It seems like every day is a day to celebrate something. We have all heard on the radio or social media, “Today is National Hug your Dog Day” or “…Wash your Car Day”. Every day of the year has been set up to celebrate multiple things, and there are some outlandish and wild things we are supposed to think about. For instance, National Ball Point Pen Day or National Talk in an Elevator Day. Or maybe your favorite is National Pop Goes the Weasel Day because we all know that singing Pop Goes the Weasel over and over and over is not annoying at all. And my main question is, “Why can’t every day be National Doughnut Day?”…..but I digress.
Well, whether you care about these national days or not, I like the one coming up at the end of this week. Friday, March 3rd is “National Soup It Forward Day”! Soup It Forward Day is a day to urge people to spread love and generosity with a bowl of soup. The fundamental idea behind the day is to think about others who are less fortunate or are going through a tough time right now. Nothing like a warm bowl of soup to let them know you care and brighten their day. Of course, it made us here at Operation Inasmuch think about our process of packing meals, and I thought it would be a great time to share about food packing in our monthly newsletter.
Around nine years ago, Operation Inasmuch started packing meals as a way to spread compassion and also as an opportunity to form relationships with new churches and new groups. It started small, but each year brought more opportunities to pack thousands of meals. And the places we traveled to continued to expand. Most food packs were generally within 100 miles of Knoxville, but God took our funnels and scales 300 hundred miles into Alabama, 400 miles to Eastern North Carolina, 500 miles into deep Georgia, and 600 miles to the Virginia coast.
Here are some fun facts. In the first five years, the ministry was part of packing just under 1 million meals. But just within the last four years, we have been part of packing another 2 million meals, even through the difficult pandemic years. 2022, by far, was our biggest year for food packing as we helped pack 750,000 meals. Well over 300,000 of those meals were in fact made up of chicken and vegetable soup and helped feed people in the Poland/Ukraine.
I love knowing that when people are hungry, we are helping feed them. This is very important to me because I grew up not knowing very often where my next meal might come from. Growing up in a single-parent household with my mother and older sister, we lived in government apartments, and times were very tough. I ate breakfast and lunch at school and was always grateful for that, but when dinner came… that was always an adventure. Summertime was especially hard because I no longer had that security of two square meals at school. Needless to say, the food needs hit home to me, and I am incredibly grateful that our ministry gets a chance to help feed folks.
Maybe you are interested in hosting your own food packing event? Here are some details that may help. We definitely can pack soup, but we have a total of 5 different types of meals to choose from:
1. Rice and Beans
2. Macaroni and Cheese
3. Pasta with Tomato Sauce
4. Oatmeal with Cinnamon, Sugar, Apples
5. Chicken and Rice Vegetable Soup.
Our meals are fortified with extra vitamins and proteins, making them as healthy as possible. Once packed and sealed, each bagged meal has a 2-year shelf life and can be utilized by anyone that can boil water. This makes them great for families, the homeless, or anyone in between.
When we host a food packing event, will bring all of the necessary equipment and supplies, set everything up, train all of your volunteers, and facilitate the event for your church or group. All you would need to provide would be the space, the tables, and the people. Once the food is packed, we will clean up and get out of your way, and all of the packed food will stay there in your area to distribute how you wish. There are food banks, nonprofits, schools, and church food pantries that can utilize these meals to serve the hungry wherever you live. You can also choose to ship these meals to another state or country if you desire, and we have connections to help with that as well.
A food packing event is a great service opportunity! The event is loads of fun and very high energy. People of all ages, abilities, and skill sets can serve during one of these events. I was just at a church in Tullahoma this past weekend, helping pack 20,000 meals. This is the second time we have worked with this church, and during last year’s event, we had a 3-year-old girl and a 93-year-old man working side by side. It was beautiful!
So, this Friday, go out and SOUP IT FORWARD. And don’t stop there. Find ways to serve and make an impact for the Kingdom right there in your backyard. Some people are hurting and needy that you can be Jesus for today. Matthew 25:35-40 lays that out very simplistically. And verse 40 sums it up, “…Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Yeah, most of these things we are supposed to celebrate on these “National Days” are silly and corny, but if one of these days helps point people to Jesus, that is a reason to celebrate!