the too-sweet smell of rotting food

He looked at the piles of food again, and it was like he was seeing it with new eyes. “This is wrong”, he thought, “Letting food rot while people die of hunger. It’s evil.”….
He breathed in the too-sweet smell of rotting food, “I can stop this evil.

This passage from Margaret Haddix’s book, Among the Enemy, brings back all too vivid memories of the piles of rotting potatoes that were the catalyst for the the Society of Saint Andrew’s “Potato Project.” Once you smell 50-60,000 pounds of decomposing potatoes…well, it’s something that is hard to forget. Let’s just say it sticks with you.

I was privileged to live on Virginia’s Eastern Shore for two years while I was the pastor of the three rural United Methodist Churches that composed the Oak Hall Charge. It was a great two years. My son started first grade there, and one day when he got off the bus he excitedly told me about the enormous piles of potatoes he had seen in the woods during his bus ride home from school. A few days later, as I was out visiting church members I passed by the site and saw the rotting potatoes for myself.

It was actually almost four years later that those tons of rotting spuds manifested themselves into the beginnings of the Potato Project, yet the power of those rotting potatoes remains as strong for me today as it did over 35 years ago. The too-sweet smell of rotting food is an evil that is far too real in a world of hunger and malnutrition.

Reports now show that almost 40% of food grown for human consumption is wasted in the United States. That’s around $165,000,000,000 ($165 BILLION) worth food being wasted every year. “It’s evil…” and we can stop it.

The Society of Saint Andrew’s Potato Project and it’s Gleaning Network are perfect examples of how to help. Since these programs began they have kept billions of servings of nutritious produce from being wasted, and have made sure that produce has reached the plates of┬áthe poor and┬áhungry here in the United States.

Working together we can end hunger in our lifetime. Getting rid of the too-sweet smell of rotting food is a good place to start.