By Susannah Morgan, CEO, Oregon Food Bank

When is food more than nutrition? When food forms the kernel of community. When food is an expression of love.

Food pantries distribute food to people facing hunger. The very best food pantries distribute food in a way that strengthens the power of people experiencing hunger, that makes the healthy choice the easy choice, that builds human-to-human connections across difference (economics, race, age, language – you name it). The very best food pantries are communities.

I visited Bethlehem House of Bread, an outstanding food pantry on the SW edge of Portland, recently – and I was stunned to learn that they hosted a wedding. The picture below (shared with permission) shows the actual ceremony taking place on the front steps of the food pantry. The bride and groom, sustained by food from this food pantry and nurtured in its community, have moved from homelessness to stable housing and employment.

The fact that this couple wanted to host their wedding at Bethlehem House of Bread is the truest testament I can imagine to the loving community built at and around that food pantry. Credit goes to food pantry manager (and Oregon Food Bank Board member) Linda Dove, shown in the picture as the matron of honor in blue. Linda magically combines automatic-as-breathing kindness with a fierce will to fight for justice.

True confession – this photo made me cry. Because this is what we in the anti-hunger world are capable of, at our very best.