The Frugal Meal – 2 August 2021

A young girl is eating a meal. The girl looks at the food in her spoon, blowing it slightly to cool it. Everything in this picture tells us that the food in her dish is meagre and dissatisfying. The girls clothes are tattered and dirty, she wears clogs – poor people’s shoes. She is set in the picture off centre, so that the viewer pays proper attention to the circumstances of her home, with its poor table and decaying walls. A small picture/poster is attached to the wall, this too in poor condition. It appears to show a saint, maybe a holding a palm (so a martyr). The purpose of this painting is to elicit compassion, so that the viewer will respond with practical action.

The painting is by Alexander Mackenzie, an Aberdeen artist. This picture ‘The Frugal Meal’ (1888) hangs in Aberdeen Art Gallery. Mackenzie was a genre painter, concerned with depicting the lives of poor working people and their conditions of life.

A reminder then – one in four Scottish children live in poverty today (about 230,000 – equivalent to the population of Aberdeen). Shortish of food is only one deprivation, there are of course many others.


I know what it’s like to use the same teabag twice
To cut the mould from the bread, to rescue a slice
I didn’t ever think I would be in such a mess
While working full-time for a living, while suffering from illness and stress…

Trussell Trust Foodbank User


When Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 1Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”

Matthew 14:14-16


Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom.  Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Scottish Episcopal Church Collect