Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Food Pantry

I volunteer in a food pantry across the river in a neighboring town, and today was my day to work.

I’m sure that areas around the country handle the need for food pantries in different ways. In our area there is a big Food Bank, and then we have food pantries scattered around the region in locations that supposedly make it easier for the people who need the food. You can donate food or money to the Food Bank, or directly to the food pantries. Our Food Bank sells food to the pantry where I volunteer. (The Bank has to somehow recover their costs. They are too big to be staffed with just volunteers.) The food we get from the Food Bank costs our pantry about 8 cents per pound. Doesn’t matter what the food is.

When I first found out that the FB sold food to my pantry, I thought that it was best for people to contribute food directly to us. But it isn’t necessarily so. We make up packages for families based on size, and some other criteria, such as ages of children. Contributions are hodge-podge. We can end up with some odd items, and not know who to give them too. Buying food from the big FB enables us to give out consistent food packages. But contributions are also wonderful. We get bread daily from day-old bread places, also ground beef, butter, eggs, and sometimes cheese from another source.

If you have any extra money in your budget, and not everyone does, please try to donate to your local food bank, food pantry, or soup kitchen. All good causes. What to donate? For food banks and pantries, it has to be non-perishable, and should in non-breakable containers-- plastic jars instead of glass. Food kitchens can use perishable items, and big bulk sizes also. The FB’s and FP’s need individual family sizes.

Good items are peanut butter, canned or powdered soup, canned or powdered milk, baby food, canned fruit, cereal, rice, noodles, canned spaghetti sauce, canned vegetables, complete-meals-in-a-box type food, canned meat (like tuna and Spam), juice in plastic bottles or cans, tea bags, crackers, boxed things like cheese and macaroni, the list is long.

Our little pantry gets no federal, state, county, or city monies. We donate our time and our money to keep the place going. Several churches donate money, and my own church donates food regularly. At age 63, I’m the youngest volunteer there. Everyone else must be at least 110 and older. I’m always afraid that they’ll all die and I’ll be stuck. Don’t laugh. This is a real fear. Also a real possibility!

We truly do serve an important purpose. No matter what, there will always be people who cannot feed themselves and their children. I always dread going in to work at the pantry, but each time I leave, I feel good. Not just about the public that we serve, but about those really old people who volunteer there. Makes me feel young.


The Lazy Iguana said...

t is good to hear that some people are doing something to make this a better place to live.

Imagine how much could get done if EVERYONE donated a few hours every year. 350 million people x say 10 hours per YEAR = 3.5 billion hours of volunteer work per year. I do not think that 10 hours a year is unreasonable.

Raine said...

I must say I love you for volunteering at your food bank. I give food but never my time. Perhaps I'll have time to give when I retire.

AP3 said...

Geez... why are the volunteers all so old? What's wrong with my generation?

The food bank here seems to be pretty well staffed, and gets good local GRANT (not government) funding.

There's a great food service place in our city -- the Mustard Seed -- run by the Catholic Workers. They're great.

Tan Lucy Pez said...

APPP, the Food Bank and Food Pantry are open during the working day. It's difficult for employed people to volunteer. I just wish some other retired people who are still in their 60's would help.

Tom & Icy said...

Very well stated. I think I will go down and see what I can do to help.

jevanking™ said...

You are definitely a good person for volunteering. I don't think any of us knows what it is like to be hungry. I don't think I want to know, but I didn't realize that I've done absolutely no charity work in the last year. I think I'll go buy some food at the store tomorrow and go donate it.

Jamie Dawn said...

Thanks for what you do. If more people got involved in these kinds of things, there would be more needs being met.
I ran a food/clothing closet from our church for a few years. It was really a blessing to many and I felt I was just as blessed by doing it.

GodlessMom said...

I occassionally helped my mom work a food bank in Utah when I would go home for a visit before she moved here to Houston. It was the same there, most of the volunteers were very elderly and they were in dire need of individual donations.

Much of the food they recieved from the government was stuff like big bags of cornmeal and mammoth blocks of cheese. Not many people know what to do with a big bag of cornmeal and you can only eat so much government cheese. Mom's food bank really needed baby formula, big families with lots of babies in Utah.