by Maureen McNair
Earlier this month, Feeding San Diego (FSD) made an offer I couldn’t refuse. They are now delivering food to us every week! This is a really big deal for two reasons: the pantry does not own a truck and sourcing tons of food every week is time-consuming work with no guarantee of success.
During the pandemic last year, FSD had waived their rule that they would not bring on any new pantries to supply with food, and offered to deliver food the first and third Fridays each month. The first and third Fridays food and delivery was arranged as an incredible surprise by another pantry manager whose family has hosted a food distribution for 30 years. She saw the need for food in our community and our church’s commitment to providing it. Those deliveries have been very gratefully received by pantry volunteers, client, and me.
But, there were a few catches to this arrangement. First, FSD would only confirm this arrangement two deliveries in advance. Second, we would receive no notice about what kind of food and how much food we would receive. I would find out when the delivery truck driver opened the truck doors. So, planning volunteer teams was just a guess. Third, deliveries would be Friday mornings. Since the doors in the strip mall where we are located are narrow, a pallet jack will not pass through them. That has meant the volunteers on the first and third Fridays had to hand carry in about 5,000 pounds of food for overnight storage, then Saturday morning volunteers had to hand carry it back outside to distribute. None of these hearty individuals has needed a gym membership.
Feeding SD’s new offer shows how much the organization wants to invest in our pantry.
Their new offer is to deliver dry goods, fresh produce, and several hundred pounds of food donated by Starbucks every Saturday morning! So, gone are the days of hand carrying 22 lb watermelons or 750 lbs of apples inside on Friday and back outside on Saturday. Gone are the days of finding a volunteer with a pick up truck to drive to Sorrento Valley at 8AM Saturday mornings to pick up hundreds of pounds of donated food from Starbucks. It is all delivered to the part of the parking lot where we distribute food!
I still do not know what food or how much food we will receive. But, based on past deliveries, I have a general idea. Volunteers still need to hand carry inside boxes of dry goods so they can be sorted and placed into equitable grocery bags. They also have to hand carry inside the heavy wooden pallets on which the bulk food arrives. (Tuesday bulk diaper deliveries still have to be hand-carried inside, too). And, I have to meet the delivery truck by 7:30 AM on Saturday mornings. But, alleluia! What a labor-saving gift!
The other reason I am so excited about weekly food delivery is the impact it has on the time I have spent sourcing food the second, fourth, and fifth weeks of the months. It is, of course, a privilege to volunteer as a food insecurity activist. But, for at least the last 18 months, I have had to start trying to find food by Wednesday mornings at 8 AM. I have pretty much had to drop everything to get food when I find it. There were days where I have had to drop everything, find a volunteer with a pick up truck, and run down to the pantry as many as four times a day. With FSD’s new commitment, we can go through a transition period, then, I hope, I can decompress.
The pantry still needs to get food — mostly animal proteins and bread — from other sources. So, right now, on Fridays teams continues to pick up food from five additional places. And stream-lining operations with an organization as large as FSD is going to take some time too. But, this offer comes at a great time because we are now also navigating our move out of the worship space and social hall into another suite. (One of the issues we are still facing is the air filtration on the HVAC system does not work at all, so especially in Covid times, we have to wait for the strip mall owner to fix it before it is safe to move.)
If you would like to join me some Saturday at 7:30 AM for a food delivery, just let me know! Last week, I watched a drive back a 48 foot long 18-wheeler into our parking lot without a hitch! And, of course, thank you for your continued interest and generosity that makes this social justice work possible.
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