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What a day. Your to-do list was long but your resolve to complete it lasted longer. Projects finished, errands run, dependents cared for. Check, check, check. As you bask in the glow of your productivity, a low rumble humbles you and you are suddenly reminded that one of your basic to-do’s hasn’t been to-done; you haven’t eaten. 

Now aware of your lack of nourishment, your hunger hijacks your train of thought, communicates its demands through the growling of your stomach, drains your energy, and refuses to surrender your faculties until it has been satisfied. 

So, you eat.

Now satiated, your hunger subsides, surrenders your faculties, and your physical strength is replenished. But, what if you didn’t have the resources to feed yourself? What if your pantry was bare and your bank account was depleted? Can you imagine being hungry and not knowing when you would have your next meal?

According to statistics, this is the reality for 33.8 million households in the United States. The USDA describes this as Food Insecurity.

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Ranging from High Food Security to Very Low Food Security, Food Insecurity is defined as, “Household-level economic and social conditions of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.” 

Research conducted by Feeding America in 2021 reported 80,140 food-insecure households in Polk County; 25,590 of the reported included children. People are hungry. Children are hungry. Families are hungry. So many in our community are hungry. 

And while hunger is a global epidemic, the issue is closer to home than we realize. 



At the culmination of His ministry, Jesus had an exchange with His apostle Peter where He instructed Peter to care for and feed His followers. 


“The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked Him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.” 

John 21:17


While theologians and scholars have uncovered the depth of this passage and its significance in Jesus’ and Peter’s relationship, let’s focus on Jesus’ simple and final instruction; feed my sheep. 

This verse is not Jesus’ first mention of feeding others. In the Gospel of Matthew He also says, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 5:35, 40).

Meeting the needs of others mattered to Jesus. 

His commission to serve others inspired a Lakeland church to begin a small thing that grew into something great. 

In 1979, St. Joseph’s Catholic Church recognized the prevalence of hunger in the area and mobilized to feed the community. What began as a soup kitchen grew to become the number one service provider in Polk County; Talbot House Ministries. 

Since 1979 we haven’t stopped feeding. That St. Joseph’s soup kitchen evolved into a community feeding program where anyone in need of food can join us for breakfast (6:00 am), lunch (11:00 am), or dinner (4:00 pm), and a Food Pantry that provides food boxes every Tuesday and Friday. 

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Food Services Manager Lisandra Berrios shared that in April 2023, 13,000 individuals were fed and 253 food boxes were distributed. An average of 400 meals are being served daily. 

Numbers speak, and the story these numbers tell is that Food Insecurity is as much of an issue in Polk County as it is in California, Bolivia, Uganda, and anywhere else on the globe. 

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Talbot House is here to feed the hungry and you can join us. You can serve a meal, you can cook a meal, you can donate goods and perishables, or you can spread the word about the food services we provide. 

As you serve this community,  you are serving Christ. You are carrying out one of His greatest commissions, you are feeding His sheep.