There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need (15:11).
According to a study released in August 2012, Americans throw away 40 percent of their food every year, valued at roughly $165 billion annually. The average American throws away 240 pounds (110 kg) of edibles per person every year. Just a 15-percent reduction in this amount would feed 25 million people annually.
God promised to bless the Israelites if they would simply obey Him. They would always have had enough food to eat (Leviticus 26:3-5; Deuteronomy 28:1-8). In the midst of their plenty, however, the Israelites were told to deliberately “waste food”: “When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it” (Deuteronomy 24:19). “Do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground” (Leviticus 19:10). Why the deliberate waste?
The Jews were to leave some of the food “for the foreigners, orphans, and widows” so that the poor and the vulnerable would not go hungry (Deuteronomy 24:19). God reminded them of the hunger that their ancestors had experienced as slaves in Egypt (v.22).
Today, one out of every seven people is starving (925 million total). Sharing food with them should include not wasting it ourselves and sharing our abundance with the poor. God’s solution to hungry stomachs is the generous hearts and open hands of those who believe in Him (Deuteronomy 15:4-11).
“Feed Me,” Jesus tells us. But we ask, “Lord, when did we ever see You hungry and feed You?” “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to Me!’ ” (Matthew 25:35-40).
Read Deuteronomy 15 to see how God wants us to care for the poor, needy, and vulnerable in the world. What’s one thing you can do for people such as these?
What can you do to lessen the wasting of food? How can you help to feed the hungry in your community?