The Meaning of the Meal

Let me once again state the painfully obvious to you. Food is a critical element of life. Without nourishment, we would soon wither and die. That's right my friends, food is a life or death proposition. Of course those of you who really know me would...


Let me once again state the painfully obvious to you. Food is a critical element of life. Without nourishment, we would soon wither and die. That's right my friends, food is a life or death proposition. Of course those of you who really know me would suggest that I would be among the last to perish. Sorry to say, I guess you are right about that one. However, I want to make a much stronger point about food with this commentary.

The impetus for this commentary came to me as I listened to Scott Brown, our senior pastor at the Colts Neck Reformed Church, discuss a pivotal moment with the Bible that revolved around a meal. This fall's sermon series is being built upon the importance of meals within the history of the Bible. As I was listening to Scott my mind began to wander (as it often does) from the Bible to the fire service. I began to jot down a series of notes about how I have seen meals within the context of fire department operations for more than 40 years now.

Think about it my friends. How many times has the success or failure of your organization revolved around a meal? If your experiences mirror mine in any way, you will find that the importance of food permeates more places than you might think. Let me suggest a few reasons to you that I believe will stress the importance of meals to your organization:

  • A number of your fund-raising efforts revolve around food.
  • Social events involving food can be part of your membership appreciation effort.
  • You sometimes take a person out for a meal to thank them.
  • Sometimes your planning sessions are built around a meal (or series of meals).
  • Sometimes you express joy in the form of a meal.
  • Sometimes you express sorrow in the form of a meal.
  • From time to time, you and the members of your fire department bond in the presence of a nice meal.

In each of these examples, the meaning of the meal becomes a part of the message. It is up to you to understand this and to utilize the meal in an appropriate manner. Unfortunately, far too many people in the fire service today seem to have forgotten the importance of the meal in their department. In the slap-dash hubbub of today's world, people have begun to forget the meaning of the meal within their organizational life.

Since we can all agree that food is an essential element of life, let me now take this concept of the importance of meals to a different level. If food is a staple of human life, is it not then possible that food can become an important element in the life of a fire department? I believe this to be the case. Further, let me suggest that if we forget the importance of food to our organizations, we risk exposing them to irreparable damage.

Here in the Adelphia Fire Company, food and fund-raising are an important part of our annual calendar. We hold pancake breakfasts, spaghetti suppers, and old-time country barbeques. Each year we come together around a food-based theme to help us meet the financial needs of our fire company. I also see this as part of our team-building effort. Our fire company comes together as a team to create the fund-raising opportunity. Food, friendship, and financial reward are a very good combination within my world.

This food and fund-raising phenomenon is not limited to Adelphia. I have been to chicken dinners, turkey dinners, roast beef dinners, and oyster fry suppers over the years. In many places, these form a critical element within the fund-raising structure of the fire departments wherein they are held. So as you can see, the meaning of the meal in these places is important indeed. No fund-raising can mean that there will be no fuel to run the apparatus, and no equipment to carry on the fire trucks. In situations like these, it is critical to remember the meaning of the meal when the time comes.

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