A Typical Day
Recently we asked our partner agencies to share stories about the people they serve. Here's one touching story we received:
A Typical Day?
We had been scurrying around all morning. Boxes of food stood ready for the clients who needed assistance. We checked the produce left in the coolers to determine how much life was left in them. All of it looked good. Some of the cabbage leaves looked a little limp, but the inside would make a delicious dish of coleslaw. A nice load of dairy products was delivered yesterday. It should be enough to last us a few days. The meat supply was getting low so we would have to ration that a bit. We had bags of meat stew and cans of tuna and chicken. All were good sources of protein.
The sound of the doorbell interrupted our prep work. Opening the door, we were met by a young mother who had 7 mouths to feed. She was asked to please wait while we prepared her food. We loaded a box of prepacked food on the cart. In a second box we placed whatever fresh fruit and vegetables we had to share. Beside that, we placed dairy products, meat and other frozen foods. Eggs and bread were placed on top. Sometimes we have sweets and snack items to add to the box.
With our masks in place, we wheel the cart out the door to the waiting client. Her body language told us that she was pleased with what we had for her family. She hesitated for a moment and shared that both she and her husband were out of work and she didn't know how they would pay their bills. We couldn't help with that, but we told her to come again if they got low on food. There is no way we can help with paying bills, but by getting food from the pantry, that frees up money to spend elsewhere.
One mom came in explaining that her children could not have food with wheat in it and they could not have sweets. We explained that one box of food was prepacked so maybe she could share those items, which she could not use, with someone in need. Fortunately, we had fresh fruit and vegetables for her family. She also got meat and dairy products.
Later in the day, I answered the door and a young man from the neighborhood stood outside beside his riding lawnmower. He wanted two brown eggs. We only had white eggs, but I convinced him to take some mac and cheese, peanut butter and a few other items. He wouldn't be able to carry a box of food on his lawn mower.
Soon, another young man came to our door. He also lives in the neighborhood and he has special needs. He is a nice young man who holds down a job and has his own place. He wanted a bottle of juice. We were out of juice, but he took spaghetti, pasta sauce and canned fruit.
Two people dropped in with cash donations. The cash was most welcome. When we get low on meat, we must buy it for our clients. Some of our older clients talk about going without meat for days at a time. Some who come for help have never used the food pantry and they are somewhat embarrassed about asking for help. We try and reassure them and invite them to return when food supply gets low.
Managing a food pantry takes time and work. Only the volunteers realize the effort to keep the pantry running. We have the best volunteers. They put in their time and never complain. We all feel blessed that we are able to help those in need. If the Cupboard and Closet didn't exist, where would our people go? We receive many words of gratitude.
We are so thankful that we have sources of food to rely on. Second Harvest, Hunger Task Force and TEFAP provide us with food that keeps us going. We could not do what we do without them. There are no typical days at the pantry. Each day holds surprises and/or setbacks. We can only estimate how many families will come in a day. We don't know how long our food supply will last.
When setbacks happen we deal with them. Our Operation Committee stay in close contact with one another so we all know what goes on each day. The plan that we have established to see us through this pandemic is working out for our situation. We use masks and gloves and sanitize the carts we use. No one knows how long this situation will last. But in the mean time, we will do our best to help all who come to our door. Our community is made up of hard working families and we will do our best to keep this community alive.
Cashton Cupboard and Closet