The Power in a Pantry
There is nothing quite the same as a mobile food pantry. Although they are hosted and administered by different agencies and food banks, they are all strangely similar. Unlike a fixed pantry, a very large amount of food is distributed in a very small window of time and seems to me to be a most effective and efficient way to alleviate hunger, especially in a food desert.
The organizations that host the mobiles are as varied as the client base yet share a common purpose: dedicated volunteers from 18 to 80 gather a couple hours before the distribution to unload the truck and arrange the product in sometimes limited spaces and train each Worker on his/her responsibility.
After a group pep talk/prayer, the doors open at the designated time and the line begins to snake through – filling laundry baskets, totes and plastic bags; no one who needs assistance to carry their boxes is refused, it is rather like the parable of the loaves and fishes, both with food and helpers – always in abundance.
In less than an hour the crowd has subsided; the home deliveries have been packed and moved to their respective cars; and leftovers, if any remain are loaded and sent to receiving organization.
Sounds like someone wrote a how-to manual on running a mobile pantry, doesn’t it? Well as far as I know, other than a general overview on rules and regs, I would assume that the mobile runs primarily by common sense and good leadership, combined with love for your fellow human being.
And that’s what makes the mobile pantries such incredible places of joy and giving. Seeing the smiles on the kids when Mom gets their favorite sweet treat, the tears of relief to know the family can make it till the EBT card gets filled or Dad’s hours come back up, and the smiles between the recipients and volunteers as the line goes around the room.
Judgment free zone? As much as we can hope for. Anyone get left out? Not if we can help it.
See you next month!!