When Food Bank Volunteers Are Reduced to Tears
I worked at the food bank this morning. A steady stream of clients came through while I went to the local grocery store to get some basics like cereal (I was told not to spend more than 99¢ a box) and some ramen soup (couldn’t spend more than 17¢ each) and some baby food, as long as the jars were under 50¢.
Even food banks are broke.
At the end of my shift, as the afternoon volunteers were coming in, I noticed one, I’ll call her Diane, was hauling in bags and bags of food she purchased with her own money. Almost all of us bring in three or four or six items on the day we volunteer but after we finished weighing her haul, it totaled 269 lbs.
I asked why she brought in so much and she started tearing up. She said she had been in the day before, working as an intake counselor instead of as a “walker” (what we call the people who walk through the food bank with clients). She said she got so depressed because of the terrible situation most of the people she interviewed were in. Over the course of a year one woman had gone from living in an apartment to living in a motel. She was turned away because we only give food to people who have the capacity to prepare it and she didn’t have kitchen facilities. Another client, a man in his mid-50’s, had been living in an apartment but as of yesterday he was living in his car. Diane had to turn him away too. She sent him to the Homeless Shelter.
Diane said the only way “we are going to have any fun around here today” is if there is something other than the usual soup, chili and canned green beans on the shelves. So she brought in cookies and bottles of shampoo and pounds and pounds of ground beef and chicken nuggets and eggs and cheese.
Every city council member, every state rep, every member of congress, every president and every presidential candidate would be required to spend a week at our/a food bank, goddamnit.
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