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  • Writer's pictureGerald Anthony

Reflections from the food pantry: finding meaning amid the frozen poultry

Food pantry volunteering can be a ‘mixed bag’. There is lots of standing around in the cold and lots of lifting. There’s camaraderie with your fellows as you try and please the sometimes demanding public. Oh and there’s the cryogenically preserved chickens that seem to have an eire attraction to your toes when they slip from your hands.

There are moments however that make it all worthwhile. There’s the lady that drives a ten year old minivan, they call her ‘Daycare”. She picks up food for ten families. She brings along her children who are enthusiastic helpers. The kids help pack her van about halfway, they climb in and we build a wall of food around them and off they go with a wave and big smiles. A lady with three “moptop” little girls came for the first time. She saw the sign and pulled in. Her sense of relief was so palpable when she realized that she could get food that day and once a week going forward. I was touched to the core. We loaded her up good! Sadly, another couple came in. Their house had burned to the ground.

Finally, two minutes before closing time a car pulled in the exit and the driver loudly inquired if this was a drive-in food pantry. Trying not to roll my eyes, I told her yes and offered her an application. She waved it away, took out her checkbook and made an amazingly generous donation and off she went.

So food pantry work is a microcosm of life in general. Hidden among the hours of the mundane are the “pearls” of wisdom and the lessons to be learned. I am saddened by the fact that so many people need food, but up-lifted to live in a society with the resources to help them and the people willing to donate their time and money to do so.

Please give to your local food pantry.

*I work at the “Open Arms” food bank, generously hosted by The First Baptist Church of Riverhead. I call it the little food pantry that ‘can’.

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