by Nina Douglass
Jeff and I are excited to join other South Bay Food Pantry volunteers in covering Maureen McNair’s much-deserved staycation from the pantry.
Have you visited the pantry on a Saturday morning during distribution? it’s impossible to distinguish shoppers from volunteers. In fact, some shoppers choose to volunteer, and some offer small donations to express their appreciation. Some volunteers and workers in the strip mall are also shoppers, along with others.
Now more than ever, for many more of our community members than before, economic insecurity involves food insecurity, as well as precarious health and mental wellbeing. Some who come for food have significant physical challenges. An elderly man came through the line and showed me the still-healing wounds on his leg from having been hit by a car. An impeccably dressed woman repeatedly winced in pain as she loaded food into her car; I chose not to ask what was hurting her. Older shoppers who endure the wait and the walk through process. One man guides his elderly father, who has severe vision loss. Others appear to have mental health challenges.
Covid-19 precautions made it necessary for our food distribution to take place from inside the current worship and social spaces. Shoppers wait in the parking lot until their number is called, and then process along the outside of the building, stopping at doorways from which dry goods, meat, fresh produce, Starbucks foods, and bread are given out. We hope to adopt a more inviting model in the future, inviting shoppers to enter the space and select the food they wish, like traditional grocery shopping.
Conveying respect and warmth and providing options and choices are some of the ways South Bay Food Pantry volunteers work to decrease the obstacles of stigma that can inhibit shoppers to the food pantry. Thank you for your generous contributions that continue to make our work together possible.
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