(The format of the earlier post on helping at the Food Bank was messed up. Here’s a version that’s easier to read. Check it out.)
I did it. Well, I wasn’t walking, I sorted oranges and limes, but it’s all the same. When I complained in a recent post that too many of us forget the lesson of our belly buttons (that no human being is born or survives without help from others), I decided to woman-up (The Myth of Being Self-Made, 10/25/2011).
I volunteered last week at the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank one afternoon. I had a darned good time doing good. I’ve helped at food pantries and soup kitchens before, and still do. But working farther up the food chain–literally–was different and fantastic.
Even though I didn’t meet anyone who was benefiting personally from my labor, I knew that hundreds of people were doing so. How great is that, for three hours work?!? “I can’t do everything, but I can do something.” And those “somethings” make a difference.I sorted oranges and limes, bread and croissants, cheese, milk, potatoes, onions and fruit juice. All that food would fed the landfill, but by now it’s feeding children, seniors, families, and homeless people. When I came home that night, I was exhausted! I put my tired muscles to bed early and slept straight through until morning. The next day, I still felt a sense of peace, fulfillment, meaning, and connection with the world.
Food banks receive thousands of pounds of food each day from groceries, big box stores, schools, religious organizations and food drives. As the holidays approach, 8000 pounds of food is arriving at the L.A. food bank every day and needs to be sorted by somebody. Those somebodies are people like you and me.
Look, reading expiration labels isn’t hard, and separating good produce from the gross stuff is easy. If you can’t lift much weight, don’t worry, someone else will lift it for you. If you can’t stand for a long time, you can sit down.
Want a change from your usual gym routine? Schlep boxes at the food bank or move items from one box to another 2 million times, and you’ll have a good workout.
Want a change of pace for your date time on the weekend? Volunteer together at the food bank. Work together on pallets of food from Costco and Trader Joes. Pretty soon you’ll have sorted hundreds of pounds of food, had a good time, and have something to celebrate over dinner.
In the gleaning room, you meet career climbers and those who’ve arrived, people who have jobs and those who want jobs, younger and older people, teachers, nurses, and techies. Whoever you are, you’ll fit right in.
One of the saints in my life helped start the Dayton-Cincinnati Regional Food Bank in the 1980’s. She taught me about the wastefulness of our grocery system and the importance of gleaning. Micky Gogle’s life has probably touched a million people by now with goodness and food. Micky, I felt your presence as I sorted food last week.
Whether we have little food in our fridge or lots, have great health or don’t, have oodles of time or not much, in a matter of hours, we can help hundreds of hungry people. Let’s do it.
I’m headed back to the food bank on Tuesday afternoon, November 13. Want to join me? Go to www.lafoodbank.org and sign up. Or find a food bank in your area and volunteer.