Food Recovery: A Labor of Love
by Maureen McNair
Have you ever wondered what kind of work it takes to get food into our church’s South Bay Food Pantry?
Right now, it takes several volunteer teams working on Friday and Saturday to get the food we will distribute Saturday morning.
On Friday morning at 8 AM, Valerie Jaques and I meet in Mira Mesa at the San Diego Food Bank warehouse. We shop for meat, poultry, frozen meals, eggs, fresh produce, and dry goods. Valerie does a lot of heavy lifting of goods into her pick up truck, then drives down to our pantry in Chula Vista.
I stay at the Food Bank to pay and schedule future appointments. Then, I swing by Barons in North Park to pick up donated bread and desserts.
Meanwhile, Adrienne Kaplan goes to Food 4 Less in National City to pick up their food donation. This particular Food 4 Less is one of the highest donating stores in the chain. Often, they donate meat, poultry, and sliced bread.
While Adrienne is at Food 4 Less, Jeff Kline and his spouse, Nina Douglass, pick up a food donation from the delivery bay at Smart & Final in Chula Vista.
Later Friday evening, either Kate and Mike Collier or Alice and Doug Diamond pick up a bread donation from Con Pane Rustic Breads and Cafe in Liberty Station and bring it down to the pantry.
On Saturday morning at 7:30 AM, I meet the delivery truck from Feeding San Diego in the pantry parking lot.
Feeding San Diego quickly figured out they needed to send one of their smaller trucks since our strip mall only has one driveway. Not all drivers were particularly keen on backing an 18 wheeler out of our parking lot.
The Feeding San Diego driver uses an electric lift to deliver pallets of food into our parking lot. Our volunteers really, really want an electric lift. One person can move over two tons of food in a few minutes!
Right now, and for the last two years, pantry volunteers have been carrying food by hand. Sophia Lopez-Zimmer and her son, Andres, who is now a college student, meet me at the pantry at 7:30 AM and spend a couple hours hand-carrying dry goods inside.
Feeding San Diego also delivers about 1,000 pounds of food donated by Starbucks on Saturday mornings. The food arrives in dozens of bins. Volunteers sort through the food and dispose of opened or expired packages. Then, volunteers put 7 or 8 items in plastic bags to distribute to each household that comes to the pantry.
Feeding San Diego also delivers at least 3 types of produce every Saturday morning. Typically, we receive over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce, usually three different types, such as potatoes, onions, apples, oranges, kiwis, or watermelons. Volunteers sort it all into about 200 separate bags.
Preparing for the food distribution takes from 7:30 - 11 AM every Saturday morning. Then, it’s show time! Our food distribution starts at 11 AM. Volunteers easily serve 200 households and clean up in 90 minutes. But, that is another story!
Thank you for your continued generosity! Our volunteers very much want to purchase an electric lift. Plus, they need to purchase double wide doors the lift can fit through. They appreciate your support!
If you would like to volunteer at the South Bay Food Pantry, please contact Maureen McNair. Her contact information is in every issue of our church newsletter, “The Window.”
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