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Lunchtime: Eating for the Benefit of Everyone Else

In many churches, food is as commonplace as pews, choir robes and altar calls. In fact, potluck is as much a part of the Christian vernacular as prayer, peace and pastor. Therefore, the call to eat for the benefit of others is an important one in the life of a Christian and a Christian community.

Throughout Scripture, we see references to food nearly as much as we see references to the supernatural. Indeed the two often go hand in hand: manna falls from the sky, a few loaves and fish are able to feed thousands, and one small bite from some fruit makes things go terribly wrong from the start.

So while we may not need to necessarily “redeem” food, we do need to consider the impact our eating habits have on others. The ways we grab lunch, prepare dinner and serve dessert all add up to a significant portion of our lives. Steering this in the right directing is no easy task–but it can be done.

In this excerpt from my new book, New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours, I offer some practical suggestions for ways that anyone–especially Christians–can use their dietary delights to eat for the sake of others, whether you’re grabbing a snack in the middle of the afternoon, or sitting down for the biggest feast this side of heaven.

Whether we’re 5 or 95, we (in the U.S. are lucky enough to) eat lunch. Or at least we should. Sometimes we skip it in order to get something done, but when we do, we regret it come mid-afternoon. Other times, we order that extra cheeseburger, which we also soon regret.

Maybe your lunch hour is a reprieve from your monotonous work routine. Maybe it’s not an hour but more like a half or quarter hour. Maybe you never eat alone. Maybe you put the “power” in the phrase “power lunch.” Whatever the details, lunch is part of your vocabulary, and part of your day.

Americans spend more than $1.3 billion every day eating out. There are over 800,000 restaurants in the U.S., and lots of them are crowded for lunch and dinner from sea to shining sea every single day. How we eat, then, is as important as what we eat.

–Waste-free lunch: The average American child produces 67 pounds of trash a year just from their lunch. And some of us grownups fare no better. Make a commitment today to eat a waste-free lunch. Here’s how: fill your lunchbox (not a paper sack) with reusable containers (instead of plastic bags), stainless steel utensils (in place of a plastic spoon or fork), a thermos (as opposed to a soft drink) and a cloth napkin (not a paper one). When you get home, simply wash, rinse and repeat.

–Get fresh: Frozen food requires 10 times more energy to produce than fresh food. All of that preparing, freezing, packaging and shipping really takes a toll on efficiency and the environment. For lunch today, do your part by eating one fresh meal. Resist the urge to nuke some prepackaged delight and instead reach for whole fruits, organic veggies, or even some tasty treats from the deli.

–Skip the soda: We know the immense necessity of your Diet Coke fix, so we’ve got a challenge–pass on the canned soda and give your drink money to someone or something that needs it. You’ll save calories and some aluminum from needing to be recycled, and your loose change can be given to someone who asks. Saving your drink costs for the entire week makes a larger donation to a worthy cause. Drink water for lunch, and pass on the savings.

–Waiter, waiter!: If you’re sitting down, be sure to be nice to one of the 2.2 million people who call themselves a waiter or waitress. Make an extra effort to treat your server with enormous gratitude and heartfelt respect. Learn their name, smile, say “please” and “thank you,” tip well, and fill out a glowing comment card.

–The lunch mixer: Today, when you grab your grub, ask someone to join you. Find someone you’ve never eaten with, someone you’ve never spoken to, or someone you know needs a friend. If you’re feeling generous, treat them to lunch. When all of us sit and sup with a stranger, the world shrinks tenfold.

New Day Revolution: How to Save the World in 24 Hours is co-authored by Sam Davidson and Stephen Moseley, founders of CoolPeopleCare. The book has over 100 practical ideas on ways you can make a difference as part of your daily routine, and also comes with a beginner’s glossary for those new to the world of social change.