We at Hospitality Pantries believe that everyone in our community should have enough to eat, and that we
do justice when we share available food resources to try to ensure that no one in Knoxville goes hungry.
Jesus said that when we feed the hungry we feed Him.
We believe that the bounty of the earth is intended to benefit everyone and that it is an injustice that
many people suffer from lack of adequate food and nutrition.
Our new pantry/food warehouse on West Scott Ave. is having a profound impact on hunger in Knoxville. With
the additional dry storage, cooler and freezer space at this 8800 sq. ft. facility we are able to receive
and distribute to hungry families more than five times the amount of food previously available to us. But
providing food is not the Main Thing about the work of FISH Hospitality Pantries.
Our pantries are run by a diverse group of people representing different religious traditions, ethnicities,
and economic circumstances (about a third of our volunteers first came for food assistance). Our pantries
create a model of community that allows people to grow, learn, and enjoy one another rather than fearing
differences. But as badly as models like this are needed, this isn't the Main Thing either.
We do not ask invasive questions of people who come for food. The poor themselves decide how often they
need to come. Who deserves our help is not a consideration at our pantries. And this is not simply to
let a few people whom we think may be “guilty” to go unchallenged in order to avoid the possibility of hurting innocent people.
The Main Thing is that our pantries provide an opportunity to be like God--to be united with Him--revealing
his compassionate mercy to people who may be feeling the most isolated, the most judged (by themselves and
others), the least cared about, and the most vulnerable to feeling defeated by life.
In our non-judgmental respect for the dignity and privacy of people is a power to heal and to free people
from burdens, and to move us toward true relationship with one another. This is the Main Thing we are about.
At the pantries we seek to be united with that power not only for the sake of others but for the sake of our own growth into freedom.
Givers and receivers are united, for in helping to free others we are ourselves freed by the same spirit.
We accompany food for the body with nourishment for an even more fundamental human need.
If we really believe that it is God's way to treat us mercifully
in our weaknesses and failures and that such love truly leads to transformative healing and freedom,
then we will want to be united with the spirit to share this Main Thing with others.
Isn't this why Jesus said, “If your coat is demanded of you, give your shirt as well,”
and “Give to anyone who begs of you,” and “God makes
his sun shine on both good and bad men and lets his rain benefit those who do right or wrong?”
Isn't Jesus inviting us--even commanding us--to see and to act on the opportunities provided
in our projects and endeavors to work with Him to reconcile every person to God and
to one other through the power manifested in a mercy that disregards worthiness?
In “suspending judgment” for God’s sake our pantries become places of healing
where miracles occur--and where true community is being created.
Jim Wright, Director
FISH Hospitality Pantries