Ismael Sobek Carnegie Mellon U, United States
The sharing system I’ve designed is called Give Us This Month, sometimes shortened to GUT. The name is an open-ended allusion to the famous (in the West) “Lord’s Prayer”:
"Our Father in heaven…
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors…" etc.
I should say that I’m nonreligious, and I don’t envision GUT as a religious organization. To me, the phrase “daily bread” stands alone as a cultural reference in the US. The name is simply a nod to this, and to the spirit of giving that GUT encourages and enables. (And it creates a pre-existing positive association for the many, many Christian Americans.)
The Lord’s prayer uses “daily bread” as a symbol of security, sustenance, stability. Anyone who knows the prayer and hears “Give Us This…” begin filling in: “our daily bread, and forgive…”. People unfamiliar with the prayer still get something from the name: an (admittedly vague) description of what, exactly, they do by joining the system. You give, month by month.
More specifically, qualified volunteers matched with customers-in-need, or “kin”, agree to pick up extra groceries once every month. The exact amount and maximum price of these groceries is determined by mutual agreement of volunteers and their kin. Once a month, volunteers bring this food to their kin, and the two cook and share a meal together. Volunteers and kin are matched for 6, 9, or 12 months, again by mutual agreement, after which volunteers can be matched with other kin.
The first part of this equation—a monthly grocery delivery—is a bit of a red herring. For some, perhaps many (it is hard to get statistics on something this fine-grained) living in poverty, it may be possible to eat well without resorting to a delivery service or even buying a car. GUT’s grocery deliveries can alleviate, but not fully solve this problem. The second part of GUT—cooking a meal together—is much more unique, and possibly more important. During these meals, information, tips, stories, smarts, delicious food, gratitude, and much more is be shared between volunteers and their matched kin. Their monthly recurrence becomes a powerful bit of stability and satisfaction.