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MEALS ON WHEELS

How would you like to eat your meal on a wheel instead of on a table? It will not be necessary because “Meals on Wheels” is a metaphor for a program that feeds the needy.

 

The Waco Meals on Wheels website challenges readers with this statement: “Our mission is to nourish the bodies, minds, and spirits of older adults in the Heart of Texas through meals, activities, transportation, and volunteer support.” Founded in 1967, the Waco agency is a nonprofit that delivers meals regularly to over 850 needy people in the area. There are more than 8000 such programs across America.

 

I have my own “Meals on Wheels,” at least three evenings a week, when I take my wheels and go to my Waco family’s house for meals. Those are special days because I do not have to rely on my own feeble cooking.

 

I admit it, somewhat shamefully: I never learned to cook, although I have learned enough to stay alive, indeed, even to gain some weight. However, I never seem to gain much, which is good news and shows that my cooking is adequate.

 

My wife Joice tried to teach me to cook and would allow me in the kitchen to observe, but she was aware of my resistance to prolonged dangers near a stove or even a microwave. I would warn her of how hazardous it was for someone with a pacemaker to stand near an appliance with a magnet. I didn’t know what I was talking about, but I was convincing. Of course, I did not have a pacemaker for over 50 years of our marriage, so it was admittedly a lame excuse. She humored me by asking me to get the flour, sugar, or some other item for her.

 

Joice would have said that she was not a very good cook when we got married, and that was probably true. However, she became an excellent one and needed that skill because during her lifetime she cooked and prepared meals for thousands of guests. I remember only one failure. It was in Papua New Guinea at our small cabin where we stayed when we were not in the village. 

 

We had some friends over for an evening meal, and we were all in a hurry to go to a meeting. Joice had been busy all day and had little time to prepare supper. It wasn’t quite done when she realized that she had forgotten to prepare the vegetables. To do so quickly and without our observation, she turned off the overhead light and lit a candle. In the poor light, the meat looked done. She took some of the sweet potato prepared for the cat and put brown sugar and butter on it. In the candlelight, it looked good, too. However, the meat was not done, and the sweet potatoes were stringy, I turned on the light to see what it was we were trying to eat, and I couldn’t figure out why she kept turning the light off. We quickly finished our “meal” and went to the meeting.

 

Sometime later the truth came out and our friends said that they had remarked that it was the most unusual meal they had ever had at our place. I agreed, and so did Joice!

 

I grew up on a small farm, with cows, chickens, pigs, and a garden, meaning that we always had plenty to eat. Mom canned vegetables and fruit, so there were rows of canned tomatoes, peaches, and other items in our cellar during the winter as well. My dad could fry potatoes and eggs and make coffee, but that was the extent of his cooking virtues. I would make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich upon occasion, but I was generally culinary deprived.

 

My daughter has tried to teach me to cook and there is a cookbook on my kitchen counter that I am to consult when needed. Occasionally I look at it, but I am discouraged by the beautiful pictures of mushroom minute steaks, beef teriyaki, chicken curry, and other magnificent meals. Even my tacos look like they need ER.

 

Karol has taught her children to cook. and they have needed that skill in college. I always ate in the dining room at college, even on Friday nights with liver and onions. There were no cooking facilities in our dilapidated dorm, so I had a good excuse. When I got out of school and boarded in Pontiac, Michigan, to be near Joice, I did some “cooking.” Pork and beans were my favorite or scrambled eggs with toast. Thankfully, Joice’s mom often invited me to eat.

 

With that kind of background, it is no wonder that I am fond of any program that assists hungry people. One major effort that we should keep in mind is managed by Dr. Jeremy K. Everett, the founder and executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty.

 

Jesus reminded his disciples (and therefore us as well) that the poor would always be with them, meaning of course that we can always do something to help them.

 

Karl Franklin

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