Posts filed under ‘At the Food Bank’
Here’s a shocking article about how austerity cuts are affecting the health of folks in the U.K.:
Malnutrition a Public Health Emergency, Experts Warn
Malnutrition is something most of us associate with the third world or even the world of Dickens. But new figures show hospital admissions in England have nearly doubled in the last five years.
A group of scientists and public health experts is warning the rise is evidence of a “public health emergency” which could be linked to changes to benefits.”
They cite government statistics that show there were 5,500 hospital admissions for malnutrition between 2012 and 2013 compared to just over 3,000 in 2008.
They also point to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that found families were buying cheaper more unhealthy food.
This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late.
Letter to the British Medical Journal
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, David Taylor-Robinson from the University of Liverpool and six other academics warn: “This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventive action.”
They say they are particularly worried about the number of children with malnutrition because it can cause cardiovascular and other chronic diseases in adulthood.
They believe the rise in cases of malnutrition, and the increase in the use of food banks, could be linked to welfare reform.
So, that’s austerity, U.K-style.
Meanwhile, this is what’s happening here in the U.S.:
Meanwhile, there may be no way to prevent Congress from allowing 1.3 million people to lose their unemployment benefits, or reversing the sharp cuts to food stamps, which are one of the most destructive forms of austerity. (In fact, Republicans demand much, much greater cuts to food stamps.)
As the CNN report says, the ostensible reason to cut spending and/or raise taxes is to keep the budget deficit low. But government borrowing costs are still near historic lows, and the budget deficit is plummeting like a stone. Meanwhile, unemployment is still high, inflation is still low, and hysteresis is turning unemployment into long-run structural damage.
Overall, the austerity binge has cost the economy about 3 million jobs at this point. Put simply, this is insane, and there is no sign Congress will stop it anytime soon.
I volunteer at a food bank. Food banks in the area just held their big annual food drive. We collected something like 6,000 pounds less than we did last year. Last year we collected roughly 13,000 pounds less than the year before that. At some point, food banks are going to get crushed under the weight of so many starving people and hey, maybe then we should get together with the U.K. and have a malnurishathon.
Geezus. I think it’s immoral to cut services to the poorest, most desperate segments of a society.
USA, USA, USA!
Regular readers of this blog know that I volunteer on Fridays at my local food bank: the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA). While we probably won’t notice a change come tomorrow, over the month of November and on into next year we likely will be more strapped than ever and have a harder time providing services to those who need it than we do today:
[T]he really scary thing this Halloween is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the push he and others made to make sure the Food Stamp program (SNAP) is gutted… If you think Halloween is scary wait until tomorrow (November 1st) when SNAP cuts kick in and tens of millions of folks find themselves seriously economically upended.
What’s scary is knowing that 75-80% of the new jobs added over the past 5 years are 7.25 hour jobs with the largest population of unemployed and underemployed being folks in their 40s and 50s .. Meaning that many lost their jobs in the 2008 economic melt down after working 15-20 years and never could get back in the market place…Those who have are now working at those low wage jobs taking care of kids and elderly parents with many on food stamp.
What’s scary is Cantor pushing a bill that would require folks to be enrolled in a job finding program for 20 hours a week in order to get Food stamps when many of those programs throughout various states have been cut or closed completely. In addition many of the people on food stamps work.. They simply do not make enough to cover cost for food.. But his flawed narrative appeal to those who have stereotyped those receiving help.
Even more frightening are the numbers of Democrats who have jumped into the fray and support the madness including democratic leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz out of Florida who said the Dems aren’t opposed to SNAP cuts.. Here in Cali Senator Dianne Feinstein voted for the Senate version of a Farm Bill which will cut 4 billion from SNAP….Topping all this off, many of the folks who voted to gut Food Stamps are getting subsidies for themselves and people in their district via agricultural subsidies.
EFAA is already suffering from a spike in needy cases due to the floods along the Colorado Front Range in September. Having hundreds if not thousands of people in our area kicked off the food stamp program as of tomorrow will potentially make our caseload unimaginably worse. The recession was bad enough without compounding events like the floods and now the SNAP situation.
Something’s gotta give. The downward pressure on help agencies of last resort, like EFAA, is becoming almost unbearable.
I’ve got to start keeping track of the infrastructure failures that are occurring all across the United States; everything from water main breaks to computer glitches. I read about them here and there almost every day. They seem small on their own but together, they add up.
Our country is falling apart. Literally. The thing is, the failures aren’t happening in areas where rich white people live so we aren’t hearing about them.
Case in point. This is an emergency:
Power Outage Shuts Down Food Stamp Program In 17 States
SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) – Food stamp recipients in 17 states lost access to the electronic system used by stores to verify their benefits on Saturday, leaving many unable to buy groceries, the company that manages the system said.
People enrolled in the government food assistance program use plastic vouchers similar to debit cards. Starting at about 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), some of those cards stopped working, Xerox spokesman Kevin Lightfoot said.
A power outage that started the problem was fixed within 20 minutes, Lightfoot said, but shoppers continued to run into difficulties throughout the day. By early evening, the problem still had not been fixed.
States States experiencing problems included Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois,Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio,Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, Lightfoot said.
My food bank-volunteer-self knows this is going to hurt so many people in so many ways. The ripple effect will be tremendous lest it’s fixed tonight. Get that “electronic system” up and running ASAP! Oh, wait, the government’s shut down. Shi*t.
How about some canned chili made with mystery meat that’ll last for a million years and oh, I don’t know, some canned green beans from who-knows-where? And let’s have some soggy brownish government-issued canned peaches for dessert.
Sounds yummy huh?
Catered meals? Really? That’s what you’re used to?
I spent my morning volunteering at the food bank in the basement of their building sorting through bags and bags (and bags!) of donated food. What a wonderful thing. We were so low — if you didn’t like green beans and canned chili you were out of luck — but the community pulled through and rescued us just when we needed it most, i.e., after the Boulder flood when we’re serving more people than ever.
My Tweet of the Day:
Oh, and then there’s this:
OMG. Will that ever come in handy.
Bravo to all!
Just me and Al, hanging out on the deck after a busy day stocking groceries at the food bank:
Happy Friday indeed. Just got this tweet from the Emergency Family Assistance Association where I volunteer on Friday’s at their food bank:
So woohoo! Thank you donor!
People who read my blog on a regular basis know I’m passionate about my volunteer work at Boulder’s Emergency Family Assistance and that I’ve volunteered there for more than four years.
That said, please — PLEASE — put a few cans of soup or veggies (or whatever) out on your front stoop tomorrow so the National Association of Letter Carriers can do their good work collecting food for food banks all across the country.
Food banks are running on empty these days.
Folks who visit a food bank aren’t “the other” and they aren’t there because they want to be. (Who would do that?!) They are you and me. They’ve run into hard times because of stupid financial decisions (I can relate) or pressures outside their control. We could be them in an instant.
Again, please help if you can.
I spent most of the day at the food bank today, as I do every Friday.
It’s a gorgeous day, sunny and in the 70s, so the place was practically deserted. We stocked shelves and ah, stocked shelves and then stocked shelves some more until there really wasn’t much to do.
A few people dropped donations off, none of whom I actually saw but if I’d seen the person who dropped off food that expired in 2006, including half-empty hand lotion and used, yes, used lip balm I’d be looking for them right now.
It’s one thing to clean out your pantry and your medicine cabinet and donate things you aren’t ever going to use to a food bank but it’s another to do that with ancient food and used cosmetics. Come on, who ever you are. Really?
You walked away feeling all righteous about giving to a food bank but instead you insulted not only the volunteers who had to spend time going through your crap but you deeply insulted our clients.
We have standards. We don’t put food on the shelves that expired seven years ago. Would you eat that? And are you kidding? Used lip balm?
Pissed me off no end.
UPDATED: H/t and thanks to TheFightWithFoodDaily.org for linking to this post.
Today is the weekly slow day here on the ol’ blog. It’s my volunteer day at the food bank and after hours lifting and moving cases of gallons of milk (four gallons per case), 40-pound bags of potatoes and boxes of oranges and cucumbers, I’m beat.
I’ll be back at it tomorrow (or maybe later tonight).
Hat tip to ya’ll.
That sort guy in the blue shirt on the conservative side represents the people I see at the food bank. Some of them don’t stand a chance but Republicans would have us believe “all” they have to do is “work hard and play by the rules” and they’ll be millionaires.
Bear with me while I see if my finders will work long enough for me to put up a post about my volunteer time at the food bank today. I’m near exhausted so I’m not sure how this will go.
Anyway, if you want to get into the spirit of Christmas, volunteer at a food bank around this time of year. Wow. What a fantastic day.
While I have nothing to compare it to, my sense is that the food bank here in Boulder is extraordinarily generous because they give out special “food bags” during both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The Thanksgiving bags have a pie crust in them, a can of pumpkin, a can of evaporated milk and all the other fixins for making a pumpkin pie. They also have rolls, a can of veggies (usually green beans), some potatoes, a gravy mix and a stuffing mix.
Today we had seven extra volunteers who were bagging, again, potatoes (ten per family or 20 per a family with more than five people) and fresh onions (six each). Employees from a local restaurant drove up in a big U-Haul-type truck with 200 boxes filled with four bags each (large bags, the size of recyclable grocery bags). Those bags held cake mixes, canned gravy, cookies, candy, little toys for kids, a toy for a cat and a dog, some canned salmon and well, the list goes on and on. There were approximately 20 things in each bag. The potatoes and onions the volunteers were bagging will go in them.
Beginning next week, and running through the 21st, everyone who comes through the food bank will get a special holiday bag over and above the food they take off the shelves.
Not only that, the City of Boulder brought in approximately 75 pounds of canned goods their employees collected and they promised to come back next Friday with more. Two of our volunteers were headed out this afternoon to Longmont (a town about 20 miles north) to a high tech firm (forgot the name) to pick up something like 2,000 pounds of food it collected.
A local “wealth management” firm in town is set to bring in a whole bunch of food as they are going to volunteer at a local grocery store for the next two weeks, standing outside the door asking for donations and putting those donations in a huge bin, all of it destined for us.
So while this is happening I’m thinking about folks like the (allegedly) Christian-centric “One Million Moms” organization which is running a hate campaign against J. C. Penny for featuring Ellen DeGeneres in their Christmas ad and I think, what would Jesus do? Would Jesus hate on J.C. Penny and Ellen DeGeneres or would he get up off his butt and go out and get food to people who can’t afford it?
I think we know the answer.
Hope you’re all getting in the holiday spirit. Again, if you’re having trouble, volunteer at your local food bank. You’ll get more back than you’ll give.
What a great day.
Okay. Now I’m going to collapse on the couch for a while.
This article appeared in my local newspaper yesterday:
A Boulder man is pledging to match the next 50 turkeys donated to the Emergency Family Assistance Association, bird for bird.
Gabriel Fenton heard about the small number of turkeys coming into the organization so far this holiday season and said he’d match the next 50 turkeys donated to EFAA.
“As a kid and an adult, my favorite meal has been Thanksgiving dinner, and the turkey … is really the key component to that,” Fenton said. “So I wanted to do something to allow a few more people to have the same experience.”
EFAA Executive Director Terry Benjamin said the donations “will really, really make a difference for the people that come through here the next few days.”
People can donate in person at EFAA’s food bank, 1575 Yarmouth Ave., Boulder, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Donations can also be made online at tinyurl.com/d8sj73v. Choose “turkey purchase” in the gift description field.
Regular readers of this blog know I volunteer at EFAA on Friday. Guess what happened folks. We had frozen turkeys coming through the door all morning! It was fantastic. We filled all our freezer space — the space on the food bank floor as well as freezers in the basement. We had so many turkeys we literally set them on pallets and gave them out as they were coming in.
Turkeys are relatively cheap and they feed a family for days in their various incarnations; roasts, soups, sandwiches.
Not only that but we had yams, potatoes, gravy mixes and tons of bread and instant stuffing mixes.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Boulder!
People who are having a very hard time will have a good Thanksgiving thanks to you.
Just got home after three and a half hours sitting at the Table Mesa King Soopers in Boulder asking / begging people to donate to the 9Shares/Colorado Cares food drive which will benefit EFAA (as well as other Denver-area food banks), the food bank where I volunteer.
I think we collected roughly (I’m not good at estimating this kind of thing) 800 pounds of food. Not only that, amazing people donated approximately $500.00 in cash at my location alone (one of three in town).
Thank you, thank you, thank you Boulder!
Heads up Denver/Boulder. The 9Shares Colorado Cares annual food drive is happening this Saturday:
DENVER – On Oct. 27, 9NEWS will join the largest national day of helping others – Make A Difference Day – and make it a part of 9Cares Colorado Shares.
This is the largest one-day drive in the region thanks to the thousands of people who donate food.
Some of the food that’s collected will benefit the food bank where I volunteer — EFAA.org.
Please come by and toss a can or two or ten into our collection bins.
It’s going to be cold on Saturday. Help make the three hours I’m going to sit in front of King Soopers — begging for donations — worth it.
Thanks in advance ya’ll.
Regular readers of this blog know I volunteer at the Emergency Family Assistance Association’s food bank in Boulder, Colorado one day a week. Today was that day this week and it was so cool because we had something special to offer our patrons.
Yeah, we had the usual food but today a nursing home that had cleaning out its closets dropped off four huge boxes of Ajax, liquid floor cleaners, Lysol, Clorox, Windex, brooms and mops. We set them to the side, near the area where people’s carts are weighed after they collect their food. Folks were absolutely loving picking out two or three items because those things are expensive and when you’re poor and you can’t afford food, you can be sure you don’t have a separate cleaner for your floor, your sink, your windows, your countertops and your dust rag like some people do.
So, anyway, it was so fun to be able to offer those things. In the nearly four years I’ve been there the only non-food item we regularly have (and not all that often) is clothes soap and that always gets snatched up immediately. And frankly, before today, I’d never given much thought to how expensive household cleaners are nor had I asked myself which ones I would eliminate if I was as poor as the people we serve are.
Thanks to Safeway on 28th Street at Arapahoe in Boulder!
Every Wednesday they donate to the Emergency Family Assistance Association’s (EFAA) food bank where I volunteer once a week. The food bank manager there signed me up for another chore a few months ago – a once-a-month trip to Safeway on the 2nd Wednesday of each month to pick up the nearly expired food they would otherwise throw out. (Other EFAA volunteers are assigned to the other Wednesdays.)
Today they’d set aside four big shopping carts of food for us. Three of the carts contained baked goods like breads of all sizes and shapes, rolls, individual servings of cakes, cupcakes and brownies, three boxes of a dozen-each glazed donuts and a full cart of frozen popsicles.
Granted, not the most nutritious food but a real treat for the people who come through the food bank. Those are not things we would never spend our limited funds on.
After I loaded — packed to the gills would be a better description — both my trunk and the back seat area of my car, I drove the food to the food bank and unloaded it. The freezer was almost bare (not a good sign) so there was plenty of room for the popsicles. I left the bread and baked goods in a big cart for the Wednesday morning volunteers to sort out.
But again, thank you Safeway! What a wonderful thing, and a no brainer, to donate food they would otherwise throw out.
As a food bank volunteer I know that people who can’t afford food are embarrassed by their place in life. Nobody wants to be poor. Who would? Poor people are pushed to the edge of society and then where do they go? Seriously. Where do they go?
This is the new, new thing in China. I’m imagining it in my town any day now as a way to “clean up” the place. Bottom line? We don’t want to see homeless people. After all, we might be them if we didn’t scramble — like gerbles on a treadmill – and bow to the corporatocracy that is nickle and diming us to
Guangzhou Sets Concrete Spikes Under Bridges to Drive Away Homeless People
So cruel. So upsetting.
I just got home after my volunteer time at the food bank. We had fun there today because we had a special gift to give to those of our clients who have cats or dogs, thanks to a local Girl Scout troop.
Those sweet kids brought in approximately 50 reuseable grocery bags last night, half of them for people with dogs and half for people with cats. Each bag contained a cat or dog food bowl, a 5-pound bag of dry food, two or three cans of meat, a couple treats and two toys.
The cats got a little catnip-stuffed mouse, like these (so cute)
and a soft little ball.
The dogs got fairly substantial stuffed, soft squeak toys and either a rubber ring to chew on, or two tennis balls.
Those clients who had either a cat or a dog (or both) got one bag for each pet and you wouldn’t believe how thrilled they were. They loved it and we loved giving them out. And now I’m sitting here typing this imagining dogs and cats out there who don’t have much, eating that food and playing with those toys.
What a great feeling.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Girl Scouts!
As regular readers of this blog know, I spend a good part of the day on Friday volunteering at the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) food bank in Boulder, Colorado.
I’ve written a lot about the inner workings of the food bank, about our clients and about our seemingly never-ending quest to keep the shelves stocked but I’ve never posted pictures. So, voila, here are pictures:
This is the reception area. EFAA not only runs a food bank but it helps people find housing, it has a furniture bank to help people with beds, tables and chairs, etc., but everyone passes through this area when they come in for help:
This is the entryway into the food bank. The door to the immediate right, at the end of the row of shopping carts, is the door leading toward the reception area above.
Below is the canned fruit and veggie area, bread (down below) and the freezer straight ahead.
The area below is our food prep area. Here we divide the likes of big bags of lettuce, potatoes, 10 pound bags of sugar, large bags of coffee, etc. This is also where we store empty egg cartons, baggies, and anything else we might need. It is also where we store diapers and toilet paper.
And last but not least, this is the cooler where we store dairy goods, lettuces, some fruits like blueberries and raspberries (when we have them) and anything else one would typically put in the frig. Below and to the right (off camera) is a slanted table that holds our fresh veggies and some fruits (when we have them).
EFAA used to rent the dingy basement of a tiny church before moving into this building about six years ago, which was designed as food bank. It’s light and airy and laid-out in a very efficient way. We walk the clients through, giving food out according to family size, and they go out a door to the right of the picture above which leads to the parking lot.
So, that’s it.
I went to the food bank this morning to drop off some things we used while we sat at the grocery store on Saturday, begging people to make a donation to our local food bank as part of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ nation-wide food drive. After I lugged the card table, a banner and a box of brochures, stickers and business cards inside I got to talking to Liz, the food bank manager. I asked her if she had a total yet of the amount of food collected here in Boulder, all of which goes to EFAA’s food bank (Emergency Family Assistance Association). She said she did but it isn’t pretty.
Bear in mind that EFAA gives out 50,000 pounds of food per month. In 2010 the letter carriers’ food drive brought in 26,000 pounds of food. Last year it brought in 20,000 pounds and this year? A depressing 13,000 pounds. That will stock the food bank for a week. Horrendous news.
I spent a good part of my day yesterday standing outside my local grocery store asking people to donate one or two cans of food to my local food bank in conjunction with the National Association of Letter Carriers‘ nation-wide food drive. (Bless their hearts.)
Old ladies, students and people who didn’t look like they had all that much went into the store and came out with a can or two. One kid — I swear, he couldn’t have been older than 19 –giddily handed me a whole bag of food. He was amazing. You should have seen his smile.
But what sticks with me tonight is a woman who drove up to the door with her husband at the wheel of their Mercedes-Benz station wagon. A car like this:
It sells for — this is the bare bones price — $52,000.
She and her 9-something-year-old-daughter got out of the car, acknowledged our plea for a can or two and walked into the store.
Ten minutes later they walked out and walked past us without making a donation. Nothing. Not even a 10c bag of ramen soup.
A family that owns a car — a car — that cost at least $52,000 — walks away from people who can’t afford food?
The HHS sets the yearly income poverty level for a family of eight — eight — at $38,390. (Can you imagine?)
Again, thanks to all who gave but geeze Louize, what’s with that mom and her daughter?
Hey, I think I know: #IGotMine.
Heads up everyone. Tomorrow is the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive. This is the 20th year the Letter Carriers’ union has collected food to donate to food banks all around the country. Such good people!
Leave a bag of food — or even a can or two — by your mailbox and your carrier will take it. In the end, it will feed someone who’s down and out in your community.
Please donate. Food banks are really suffering these days. I know. I volunteer at one.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I spent the day today volunteering at my local food bank, as I do every Friday. Not all that many people came through — probably because it’s a gorgeous day here in Boulder and nobody wants to be inside. Nonetheless, it was good to see that the bank was wonderfully stocked. Nothing worse than arriving in the morning and seeing empty shelves. The best part was that the cooler was filled with milk, cottage cheese, sour cream, butter, fresh strawberries, tubs of salad greens, tofu, blueberries and yogurt. The fresh fruit and veggie table was packed with potatoes, asparagus, apples, oranges, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, onions and green beans. Love seeing that table so full.
I have officially been designed the food bank managers “assistant.” Insofar as she will be gone next Friday I am tasked with guiding a troop of Girl Scouts through the food bank that day. Apparently they’ve organized a little food drive and they’re going to bringing food in as well as take a look at the facilities. Part of what I learned, in preparation, was that my food bank sees on average 350 families per week. Again, that’s “families.” I should ask what the average family size is because if it’s, say, three, we’re feeding 1,o50 people a week. I also learned that we give out 50,000 pounds of food a month. Wow. That’s a lot of food. No wonder it’s always a scramble to keep the shelves full.
Another cool thing that happened was we got two visits from the newly-formed Boulder Food Rescue. Here is their mission statement:
Boulder Food Rescue is an all volunteer non-profit organization located in Boulder, CO. We rescue and redistribute perishable food “waste” to charities that serve homeless and at-risk individuals. Our goal is to help solve the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and food waste in our community.
And here is a short video about them:
Aside from large pickups, they do all their work via bicycles with darling little trailers attached. This is their logo:
Anyway, all of a sudden this woman appears at our food delivery door. There is her bicycle and there is a big bin on the little trailer and it’s full of fruit and veggies. She’s off to a local grocery store for another pick-up so she puts the big bin on a counter and takes off, while we pull out limes and tomatoes and little boxes of mushrooms and fresh herbs and bunches of cilantro (we never have cilantro!) and lettuces and spinach and put them in their appropriate place.
About 45 minutes later she comes back, this time with four boxes strapped to the trailer, and voila, we have two boxes of baking potatoes, snow peas, more asparagus, tomatillos, scallions and fresh garlic…all of which would otherwise have been thrown out.
It. Was. Fantastic. (I’m thinking about volunteering with them too.)
Our clients now have a bigger selection than ever, literally.
What a great day.
Regular readers of this blog know I volunteer at a food bank on Friday morning and wow, was it crazy today. I think it was one of the busiest days in my three years volunteering there. We had to have walked through at least 50 people between 9:30 a.m. and noon. That means we fed 50 families, not just 50 people.
We were out of some of the basics like spaghetti noodles and ramen, but we had treats like butter (two sticks per family), yogurt (three little individual-sized tubs per family), sour cream (one large (16 oz?) tub per family) and fresh pears (four per family).
I spent about an hour breaking a gigantic bag of bagels into packs of three and cutting 12-count egg cartons in half. (In an effort to distribute all of our food to as many people as possible, we break almost everything down into small or smaller portions, i.e., a dozen eggs becomes two packs of six eggs. A box of four individually wrapped saltine crackers becomes four separate portions, i.e., we wouldn’t give the whole 4-pack box to one family.)
Oh, and we little bottles of shampoo donated by Target and some clothes soap — super rarities.
It was a good day.
I just got home from my volunteer time at the food bank and I have to tell you all about the sweetest thing that happened there today.
We were fairly busy with approximately seven people making their way through the bank. A “walker” assists each client as they go through with their shopping cart as food is given out based on family size. The walker is there to tell the client how much of each item they can take, and to help bag-as-we go so the clients are ready to leave when they hit the back door (that keeps things moving).
I was standing next to a wooden table containing big plastic bins of tomatoes, peppers, oranges, apples and potatoes and I was refilling the potato bin. Across the table from me were two clients, their carts and their walker-assistants. The person farthest along in the process was a woman of about 65 with shoulder-length, graying blond hair. Behind her, with his cart and his walker-assistant, was a very tall (6′, 6″?) 50-something man with long (mid-back) salt and pepper colored hair, a weathered face, and a filthy brown canvas jacket. He looked like a quintessential homeless person but he couldn’t have been homeless because we don’t serve homeless people. (Homeless people must go to the homeless shelter for help.)
Anyway, the woman saw the apples and asked how many she could have. Unfortunately we didn’t have more than 40 so we were only giving out one per family. She selected one, caressed it, moaned and said something like, “Oh, those look so good. I wish I could have more.” Then she moved on toward the potatoes.
Meanwhile, the man behind her moved his cart up to the apple bin and, having overheard what the woman said, he picked up an apple and tapped her on the shoulder: “Here, you can have my apple.” The lady initially turned him down but he insisted and she eventually took it, saying “What a gentleman!”
I almost burst into tears. Here was a person who had to have next to noting or else he wouldn’t qualify for our services, and he wasn’t taking everything he could (a picture the Republicans like to paint). That man sweetly thought of the lady in front of him and gave her his share of the apples.
Just because people are poor and they get their food from a food bank, they don’t necessarily lose their soul or their humanity or their generosity.
It was such a touching thing to see.
I’ll never forget those 90 seconds.
Regular visitors to this site know that I spend a good part of the day on Friday volunteering at my local food bank.
Two weeks ago (we were closed last Friday due to a huge snow storm) the shelves were literally almost bare. We’d gone through the thousands of pounds of food donations we got in November and December, when everyone’s heart grows a few sizes and people think of the needy. We were experiencing the post-holiday dregs. I mean, we were out of things like spaghetti sauce and green beans and kidney beans for God’s sake…things I’d never seen us go without in the three years I’ve been there.
Today it was like Christmas all over again. A local elementary school had held a food drive and we were loaded with all kinds of pastas and spaghetti sauces and soups and baking supplies. Today, we brought in another 1,400 pounds of food from yet another school’s food drive and our clients were able to pick from such “unusual” items as salad dressing and tartar sauce — real treats for them.
Now we’re brimming with canned vegetables and canned fruit and rice dishes and a huge organic food section. Oh, and coffee! We have coffee!
It’s heartbreaking taking people through the food bank when we’re down to the bare bones. They are down to the bare bones in their lives already so when a day like today rolls around, it’s magic when a young mom squeal at the sight of penne pasta instead of spaghetti. Or a 70-ish grandma sighs and smiles at a bottle of soy sauce or, as I said, tartar sauce or A-1 sauce. Total luxuries in their world.
So, it was a good day.
I just got an email from the Emergency Family Assistance Association, the food bank where I volunteer.
They recently received a card containing $30 from a little girl:
Dear EFAA, I collected this money at my birthday party. Please use it to help needy families. From, Kira B.
Thank. You. Kira!
Antonin Scalia is a simple-minded asshat unworthy of the position he’s in:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia has a simple solution for people who don’t like all the political advertisements unleashed by the court’s decision two years ago that ended limits on corporate contributions in political campaigns – change the channel or turn off the TV.
Scalia was asked about the [Citizens United] decision during a presentation before the South Carolina Bar on Saturday, exactly two years after the court handed down the 5-4 decision in the case that led to the rise of Super PACs. They are outside groups affiliated with candidates that can take in unlimited contributions as long as they don’t directly coordinate with the candidate.
“I don’t care who is doing the speech – the more the merrier,” Scalia said. “People are not stupid. If they don’t like it, they’ll shut it off.”
Yo Tony, people are stupid. They don’t turn their TV off. They watch and they get brainwashed.
(Hear me screaming now?)
I’m going to bed. I’m walking people through a food bank tomorrow.
Just got home from my usual Friday morning at the food bank.
It was a fairly uneventful morning but it was good. We had four volunteers (the minimum required to “walk” people through while simultaneously keeping the shelves stocked) and we gave food to approximately 20 families (including one family of 12).
The best part was that aside for spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce, the shelves were full. The donations we received between Thanksgiving and Christmas are serving us well. Unfortunately, people generally don’t think about donating to food banks between January and November. While things look good now, it won’t be long (two or three weeks) before we’re again struggling to provide the basic basics, like canned beans and tuna.
So many days are really dreary but when the shelves are full, it’s a good day. And today was a good day.