By Maureen McNair.
Last December while volunteers were assembling heavy duty shelving for the pantry, we had our first pantry client — a homeless woman who cut through our parking lot with her grocery cart, said she was hungry, and asked us for food. Since that informal and humble beginning, in less than a year, and during a global health pandemic, we have already distributed 80,000 pounds of food into our South Bay community. Last Saturday, we had our largest client line to date. We gave food to 144 heads of household representing over 600 family members. Thank you for the continued generosity that allows our food supply to grow to meet the growing needs of our community.
By Maureen McNair
Four hundred years ago, in the first quarter of 2020, one of San Diego's two major food banks, Feeding San Diego, brought on our little pantry as a partner. They paired us with a Chula Vista grocery store. Several volunteers and I trained at Feeding San Diego (FSD) on how to pick up free food the grocery store would otherwise send to the landfill. FSD scheduled our first appointment to pick up free food. But, that week, as bad luck would have it, the governor closed the state because of the Corona virus. FSD canceled our appointment because there was no food. So, we never got food through this partnership. Feeding San Diego (FSD) then closed itself for two weeks to reorganize so it could support the increased demand for food from its existing pantry partners. I am sure many of you recall the food shortages and empty store shelves. FSD was very kind to our pantry, giving us thermometers for our refrigerators and freezers, a scale, a freezer blanket, and inviting me to online training. But, they also made it clear they would not be able to give us the one thing our pantry needed the most - food. That remains their official policy now - no food to new pantry partners. Until, one recent day, I received a gift by way of text.
As the summer winds down and autumn begins, registration opens for another year of Wisdom Circles at First Church! These small groups, made up of around twelve people each, meet monthly to connect with one another and discuss readings and curriculum designed around the church theme of the month.
Wisdom Circles meet from fall through late spring, and take a break for the summer. Some people choose to remain in the same Wisdom Circle year after year, while others change groups each year in order to meet and get to know new people. Either way, the deep sharing that happens within the Wisdom Circle format allows participants to cultivate long-lasting friendships and a sense of community.
By Maureen McNair
Last week, Dana and Loren Tomlinson took their pickup truck on vacation, went boating on a lake, and left me to figure out food pick up and delivery for the pantry. The three of us have a good thing going. We plan what we are going to do to get food to the pantry, then we follow the plan. Since our pantry does not own a pickup truck or delivery van and I own a Prius, I called around to other pantries to see if anyone had an extra truck to deliver food for our Saturday morning distribution. Saturdays are busy food distribution days so I made lots of calls. Pantry friend Andre, who lives and works in Carlsbad, came through for us, and this is not the first time. Once, Andre decided our pantry needed another refrigerator. So, he gave us a used one, which he drove down from Carlsbad in the back of his pickup truck. When Andre arrived in our parking lot with the refrigerator, I noticed he did not bring portable ramps. Portable ramps are gadgets that allow a person to take an appliance strapped to a dolly and roll the appliance from the truck bed to the ground. "Did you bring portable ramps?" I asked Andre. "I have what I need," he said. Andre then reached into his pickup truck bed, wrapped his arms around the full sized refrigerator, lifted it to the ground, and carried it across our parking lot into what used to be the church social hall. I followed Andre carrying a reasonably-sized object - an iced latte.
Written for Beacon Broadside by Howard Bryant, correspondent for NPR's Weekend Edition & featured speaker ("Full Dissidence") at June's UU Virtual General Assembly (GA). Thanks go to Mary Severine for the suggestion. Read "Policing Is the Glue of Whiteness".
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