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.
I have had fair warning that Andre and I have very different frames of reference for what is over whelming and what is matter of fact. So, it should not have come as a surprise to me when early last Saturday morning a box truck roughly the size of my house pulled into our pantry parking lot.
The bed of Andre's box truck is so high from the ground portable ramps are useless. Instead, the box truck is built with its own rear elevator, a gadget called a hydraulic lift. Men inside the truck use portable hydraulic lifts to pick up 4'x 4' wooden pallets of boxed food, move the pallets to the rear lift, which then lowers the pallets and boxes to the ground.
Andre has gifted us with lots of boxes of food - boxes with 360 loaves of bread and over 2,000 pounds of produce. The rest of his truck is ?lled with boxes which contain bags of frozen pork patties.
Pork patties need refrigeration and, despite Andre's earlier gift of a refrigerator, we do not have nearly enough cold space for the sheer volume of pork patties he has delivered. When the big box truck finally leaves, I am left with pallets of boxes of pork patties lined up on the sidewalk outside the pantry. I throw a freezer blanket over them to keep them cold.
When Rev. Arvid Straube, our retired minister, arrives to start his volunteer shift, he does not know what is there to greet him. Rev. Arvid bends over so many times to lift 2-lb bags of pork patties from the boxes into our refrigerators, Rev. Arvid throws out his back.
Luckily, the Air Force arrives. By the Air Force, I mean our temporary volunteer, Jared Blackwell, a Southwestern College student helping us out until he leaves for Air Force boot camp at the end of September. Jared finishes putting as many bags of pork patties into our refrigerators as they will hold. The rest of the pork patties stay on pallets in boxes under a freezer blanket.
During our food distribution, Cali and Gene N-L, who are both vegans, give away as many bags of pork patties as our pantry guests will take. I say things to pantry guests like, "Take as many bags as you want."
Nevertheless, at the end of our food distribution, we have more than a packed refrigerator of pork patties left over. Since the patties have been previously frozen and are now thawing, they cannot be refrozen. I do not know how long they would keep in a refrigerator. I need to find someone who can eat them right away, or we are going to have to throw away the remaining pork patties.
I text every pantry I know that distributes food on Saturdays asking if they could distribute the pork patties. The other local pantries had finished their food distributions for the day too. Then Rev. Arvid, who despite his sore back has stayed on site, comes up with a brilliant idea. He asks our neighboring deli owner, Omar, if Omar can use the pork patties.
Yes. Omar says yes!
Then, Omar has his own brilliant idea. He says he will drive the pork patties to a refugee camp in Tijuana. The Air Force carried the pork patties to Omar's deli. Dana and Loren had a fabulous vacation and are back for food pick up and delivery this week. And, when I finally left the pantry, I enjoyed another iced latte.
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