Federal Donuts, Hunger, and Loving Philly Well

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See, doesn’t that look good? (This picture was shamelessly stolen from the Kickstarter page).

It’s no secret that I love Philly, and every once in a while I come across something that makes me really proud of this city and excited to live here. This week, that happened to me while I was grabbing my Saturday morning coffee and donut at my friendly neighborhood Federal Donuts. Federal Donuts – in collaboration with several other Philadelphia businesses and non-profits – is endeavoring to open up Philly’s first non-profit restaurant. They’re calling this project Rooster Soup Company. I read over their Kickstarter page a couple of times, and decided that this is something that I want to get behind. And I think you should too.

The idea behind this project is simple: they want to take the hundreds of pounds of chicken scraps that FedNuts produces each day (yeah, they sell chicken alongside donuts. It’s not as weird as it sounds, and both are delicious) and use them to make soup. That soup would then be sold in a restaurant, and the profits from that restaurant would go straight to Broad Street Ministry.

Here’s what I love about this plan:

1. The food options in Philly are nearly endless, but the hundreds of restaurants in this city produce (very literally) tons of food waste. At the same time, hunger is an everyday reality for many Philadelphians. This project cuts back on some of that food waste, and will not only eliminate it, but use it to feed some of those hungry people.

2. The folks behind Rooster Soup Company could have just decided to start their own non-profit, but instead, they’re choosing to empower an existing organization. I think that’s a very wise move. Starting a non-profit is no easy task; in addition to additional capital and a specialized skill set, something like that requires time to build trust and develop relationships with clients. Instead, they’re entrusting Broad Street Ministry – which is a solid organization that serves people as Jesus would – to carry out the tangible hunger-eliminating work.

3. On their way to and from work each day, middle and upper class Philadelphians walk past dozens of homeless people. I’m sure most of them are decent people who wish there was something that they could do to help this marginalized population. Rooster Soup Company will make it easy for them to do this, without asking them to go very far out of their way (both literally and metaphorically).

4. This is a project that connects so many groups in this city: a hip business, a radical church, Center City’s homeless population, anyone who will eat at Rooster Soup Co, and anyone who backs this campaign. This is a diverse bunch, and it’s neat to see them all coming together here.

5. This is an extremely creative endeavor. I have no idea how the minds behind this idea came up with it, but I’d really like to see it play out. If it does, I don’t think we’ll be disappointed, and I suspect that there will be even more interesting collaborations like this in the years to come.

6. Soup is delicious, and this menu looks amazing.

With just a little over a week left in their Kickstarter campaign, Rooster Soup Company still needs about $20,000. If you’re interested, and if you can, I invite you to join me in supporting this creative project.

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10,000 Children

In the outcry over World Vision’s hiring policy amendment, 10,000 child sponsorships have been dropped. Until a few days ago, these 10,000 children were being fed, clothed, and educated in the name of Jesus. And now they’re not, in the name of…what? Jesus? Scripture? Theology? A culture war?World Vision

In the midst of this mess, I feel bad for World Vision. They found themselves in a lose-lose situation and now people on both sides of the same sex marriage debate are angry with them, they’re losing donors, and board members are resigning. I also feel bad for World Vision’s married homosexual employees or prospective employees, who love Jesus and simply want to help World Vision care for needy people across the planet. And I pity evangelicalism, a movement that is losing followers by the second and drifting closer toward becoming obsolete.

But all of these people and institutions will ultimately be okay, because they exist in the developed world, where our water is clean, our education is free and mandatory, and our battles take place in cyberspace. Right now, I’m really worried about those 10,000 children. Maybe their lives are stable enough to go on just fine without their sponsors’ support, or maybe they’ll get new sponsors or be picked up by another organization. But what if that doesn’t happen? Will they just stop going to school next year? Will their food just run out or something? What about their next round of vaccinations? And how will their parents explain to them that their lives are about to change significantly because 10,000 adults in America got mad about a corporate policy? Will they be confused?

And to those 10,000 ex-sponsors: what did you do with the picture of your former child, the one that World Vision sent you when you decided, in the name of Jesus, to sponsor a child? Is it still hanging on your fridge or sitting on your dresser, watching you go about your day, disgruntled but otherwise comfortable? Or did you just throw it out?

Note: Right after I wrote this, I did some research and learned, to my relief, that World Vision’s child sponsorship program is modeled in such a way that no individual child will actually be significantly impacted by this scandal. Still, I’m deeply disturbed by the mindset of those 10,000 ex-sponsors, who more or less used these children as leverage in a culture war. In a lot of ways it’s kind of barbaric, and is definitely not Christ-like.