The Mobile Pantry Impact
I was excited when I found out I would be going to the Casey mobile pantry in December. It was only the second mobile pantry I’ve visited since starting my VISTA service and I’d heard of the committed coordinator and outreach done to promote the pantry. Even though I knew of the success of the mobile, I was still surprised when I arrived a half hour early to find there was a long line of people already assembled in the below freezing weather.
Though I was happy to see all the people getting the food they needed, I was also emotional about the situation. I felt such sympathy and empathy for those in line that it made me tear up. How could I as an individual help so many people in need? Was there any way I could make a difference? I think most VISTAs enter the program because they want to help people. They believe that they can really change the world. And they can and do. But there are times when we see the poverty we are trying to alleviate, and it makes us wonder if we are really making an impact.
Around a half hour into the mobile, I realized that there were more people in line than food that was available. I could see the long line of people still waiting outside, expecting food when they got to the front. I was sure many people were there to get food for over the holidays when their children were out of school and families were gathering together to celebrate Christmas. What kind of Christmas would they be able to have if they were hungry?
I left early, feeling like a coward, so I wouldn’t have to see the faces of the people turned away. I sat in my car for a few minutes, wanting to contemplate what I had seen. It was then that I recommitted myself to the mission of my VISTA assignment and the people I am serving. Though VISTAs do not participate in direct service, we are aiding the people who do work with people in poverty and helping them do their jobs.
I’m sure I will find myself struggling with balancing my emotions many more times through my term of service. And though this will be a hard year to get through at times, it will also be one of the most rewarding and productive.
Food Bank of Iowa