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Receiving and Giving

Thinking about harvest

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explore the tradition of harvest festival and to consider the work of The Trussell Trust.

Preparation and materials


  1. As the students come into the assembly, have ‘Harvest for the World’ by The Christians playing, available at:

    Welcome to our assembly. Today, we are going to be thinking about harvest festival.

  2. Show Slide 1.

    I wonder what the last thing you ate today was. Have a think!

    You may wish to ask a few of the students.

  3. Do we ever stop to think about where that food comes from, or about the work involved in producing it? I think the answer is likely to be, probably not! Maybe we are too hungry or too busy to stop and think about how our food got onto our plates.
  4. In days gone by, it was very obvious where food came from. Before the Industrial Revolution, most people in Britain were involved in working the land. At harvest time, lots of help was needed to gather the crop. The harvest festival was a time to celebrate the food that had been grown on the land.

    Show Slide 2.

    The community came together to gather the crop, and then to celebrate the bringing in of the crop. There would be a generous feast, called a harvest supper, to celebrate. The centrepiece of the meal would be a goose stuffed with apples and served with vegetables. It was a time of plenty, with good food for all to enjoy!

  5. In more recent years, the tradition of celebrating harvest festival in churches has developed. This became especially popular in Victorian times. Prayers of thanks are offered and hymns celebrating the harvest are sung. Often, churches are decorated with home-grown produce for the harvest festival service.

    Show Slide 3.

  6. What about people who don’t have enough to eat, though? What about people who don’t have an excess of food to celebrate and feast with?

  7. Most religions teach the importance of caring for the needs of the poor, including ensuring that everyone has enough to eat.

    Show Slide 4.

    In the Bible, it states, ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.’ (Leviticus 23.22)

    This passage, which is important to both Jews and Christians, tells us that there should always be something available for the poor. When the harvest is collected, there should be some left for the poor to gather or ‘glean’.

    This idea was illustrated by a French painter, Jean-François Millet

    Show Slide 5.

  8. In a similar way, Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.’

    Show Slide 6.

    This reminds us that those in need must not be neglected by others.

  9. In more recent years, food banks have become a way in which people who do not have enough food to eat can access help to get food. You may have heard of a charity in the UK called The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of food banks.

    Show Slide 7.  

    The Trussell Trust was founded in 1997. In the last financial year, it provided over one million food supplies to people who were in need for various reasons, including redundancy, sickness, delays over receiving benefits, domestic violence, family breakdown, debt or additional fuel costs in winter. Some people who use food banks are in work, but can’t afford everything they need due to low pay.

  10. To help us understand a little bit more about the work of The Trussell Trust, let’s watch a video about Donna, who accessed food from The Trussell Trust when she became ill. She now works as a volunteer for the charity to help provide food for others in need.

    Show ‘Donna’s Story’, available at:

Time for reflection

As we think about the theme of today’s assembly, let’s bow our heads and enter into a time of reflection.

Let’s take a moment to be quiet and still.

First, let’s think about the food we have eaten recently.

Let’s try to adopt an attitude of gratitude: being grateful for this food. Being grateful for the people involved in its production. Being grateful that we have food to eat and enjoy.

Let’s think about those in our society who find it hard to get enough to eat, or people who can’t manage to provide a healthy diet for themselves or their families. We think about people in our own community who face this need.

Let’s pause and try to adopt an attitude of compassion for those in need.

Let’s try to adopt an attitude of generosity and selflessness, thinking not of our own greed, but remembering others’ need.

Dear God,
Thank you for the food that you provide for us.
Thank you that we have the ability and the means to share.

Help us to adopt attitudes of gratitude, compassion and generosity.
We pray for the work of The Trussell Trust and other charities that support those in need of food.
Please help them in the work that they do.


‘The Christians “Harvest for the World”’ (3.57 minutes long), available at:

Publication date: October 2017   (Vol.19 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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