Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Living in Reduced Circumstances

People Line Up to Receive Surplus Foods in St. Johns Arizona. Oct, 1940

Several years ago, during a major oil crisis, gas prices rose to over $4.50 a gallon here in rural Vermont.  This caused food prices to skyrocket, partly due to the cost of fuel for the freight trucks who were delivering inventory to all the supermarkets.  

Many could not afford to drive to work and had to find ways to carpool, walk, or find some other form of transportation.  I remember having to give up going to church and limiting youth group events for my (then) teenage children.  It was shocking to realize we couldn't afford the gas to drive to church!

One of the hardest things during this time was having just enough food to feed one's family with little or nothing left over to share with a guest. Many did not entertain at home. Having company was rare and difficult. Offering just a cup of tea to a guest when one wanted to offer cake or pie was depressing!

Nobody wants to live in want or hunger. Nobody wants to feel like buying sugar to bake cookies would be a financial burden when the family needed more nutritious foods like vegetables or meat.

Food pantries in our county were suddenly full of the more affluent in our area.   We were told that many could not afford to buy food and pay basic living expenses at the same time.  One large church in our area was open on a daily basis and gave out emergency food boxes which were expected to last a family, or individual, for a couple of days.  We were seeing both homeless and middle class in the same breadlines.  Nobody wanted to be there.  Nobody wanted to need charity, but the economy forced many to seek help just to eat.

Another church in our area had a monthly potluck supper offered right after the morning service.  Almost everyone brought hot food, desserts, salads, bread and treats to share with each other.  This way each family could contribute what they could and enjoy a nice big meal without feeling like they were getting a handout.    This same church also provides a large spread of refreshments in the dining room after every Sunday service.  Most of the food is brought in by members of the congregation and is a lovely way to comfort one another with both food and fellowship.

There were certain days of the week where local supermarkets would provide display tables with food samples.  Children of customers were also given a cookie from the bakery or a piece of cheese from the deli.  This made grocery shopping, on limited funds, a special outing and a way to gratefully enjoy a special treat. It benefited the stores as well since they were able to offer new foods, and have a nice way to encourage customers to shop.

Today, times are better.  Gas prices have dropped to around $2.88 in our area.  This is the lowest I have seen it here since before the oil crisis hit our nation.  Yet, there will always be someone, or some family, struggling through a time of poverty, a time of "reduced circumstances."  These are the people on a financial adventure who will overcome the difficulties with prayer, faith, hard work, and the blessing of a good church family.

Mrs. White

* [This post is an excerpt from my book, "Economy for the Christian Home."] *

From the Archives -

I will never Regret Staying Home - A Humble Parlour as a School of Theology.

He Still Hears us - Prayers Which Cannot be Uttered.

Marriage - When Groceries are the Presents.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email.