Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 11 to 20 of 24

Thread: Values puzzle at foodbank

  1. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    1,975
    We try to respect cultural choices. Also, I get the cooking thing - a guy yesterday just took white bread and asked for canned fruit but no canned vegetables and only bologna for his meat. I guessed that he might be living without food heating abilities and asked if he would also like canned tuna and he said yes.

    if people ask for no pork, we give them one extra beef (which doesn't balance the quantity)

    i have no no problem with the pigs eating the stale stuff. I am a big fan of the chickens who are gifting the food bank their eggs eating the stale stuff, I am just not sure MY chickens should be eating the stale stuff, but I am getting pressure to take it and I don't want to seem judgmental or condescending. I try to go with grateful. I definitely don't want it thrown out because I didn't take it! And I do want to respect the flow of food. I do understand about running out of macaroni because we didn't have room to stock more because there was a 25lb bag of rice in the way....

    also, not all food banks have cooking or nutrition help. We don't. I had a conversation one day with a woman who picked up a yellow squash and asked what it was. I told her "summer squash." And when she asked "what do you do with it?" I gave her some simple prep ideas. I also once told someone you don't have to make coleslaw out of chopped cabbage - you can put it in salads, sauces, soups, and stir fries. I think I lost them after "salad". I lost all the other volunteers by "stir fry".

    There is always a governing member of the food bank present when we are open. So, I suppose I should consider the fully open taking of food items to be their concern rather than mine. The rules are somewhat unclear. I am receiving them verbally a bit at a time as things come up. I didn't sign in the first four weeks because no one had mentioned it.

  2. #12
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    3,800
    CL, just treating each recipient with dignity, respect and a smile is doing a lot for both volunteers and the needy. I am learning not to be Mrs. Fixit but it is such a struggle when one sees how things could flow more easily or benefit more. I think the quote below from your post says it all.

    "There is always a governing member of the food bank present when we are open. So, I suppose I should consider the fully open taking of food items to be their concern rather than mine. The rules are somewhat unclear. I am receiving them verbally a bit at a time as things come up. I didn't sign in the first four weeks because no one had mentioned it."
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  3. #13
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Central Jersey
    Posts
    6,282
    DH and I also volunteered at our church's food bank. (Like sweetana, we got the food from a county distribution center, picking is up on a weekly basis). We hired a local to help us, because she knew the culture of the neighborhood we were servicing. She was TOUGH! She meted out justice with an iron rod. There's no way she would have let anyone, volunteer or client, get more than their share, cut in line, break the rules.

    She left and we organized the distribution ourselves. There was one church member/volunteer who did take advantage by scarfing up stuff he liked, but he had been fired from his job, so we turned a blind eye. When people are poor and hungry, I don't think they really value "rules" or "etiquette" as much as they value security--which will manifest itself in getting what they can.

    I personally feel that if you aren't poor or hungry, you may as well value the rules and etiquette.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  4. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Posts
    756
    I think some folks may be working there because they need the food, and it is a socially acceptable way to get it, without being viewed as being needy. I think that is how I would probably view it if I could not buy food.

    I am glad that the service is there for the community, and I know the community values the work that you do there, CL!

  5. #15
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3,199
    Quote Originally Posted by iris lilies View Post

    Also, to me, a major point of food bank administration is something that sweetenana touched on and it is Huge in my mind.The overhead and administrative costs of distribution are enormous when weighed against the street value of this food. Do not worship the food. Instead, respect the system that allows the food to be distributed. The physical plant and labor and gasoline and etc costs real money, although that all maybe a sunk cost by now. These food products have already been produced and the earth's resources used up in their production.
    Having done a little food bank/meal delivery work, I have found this to be absolutely true. People get hung up over every morsel not being wasted without giving much thought to the other resources involved that might be much better utilized. I have also had similar experiences with the folks who have all kinds of ideas about what other folks should be doing. Except where perhaps safety is involved, there is little to be gained from trying to micromanage volunteers. Ultimately, the organization needs them more than they need the organization.

    For the same reason, I wouldn't in most cases get too judgmental about my fellow volunteers. I'm part of an organization that works to get people into decent housing, and have observed many different motivations. We have some who share CL's feel-good ethic, we have some operating on the traditional religious "corporal works of mercy" ethic, we have a few social justice warriors putting their time where their mouths are, some folks simply trying to preserve neighborhoods, and some status-seekers who have reasons to be seen doing good. It takes all kinds.

  6. #16
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    1,975
    I am also a "time where my mouth is" person. The feel good/feel bad thing is more of an explanation of the underpinnings of my moral compass, as in generally, if I feel bad about doing something, it is probably "wrong".

    so, that is mostly why I am having inner conflict over me taking food home.

    On one side, taking food home *appears* to be a normal and accepted part of the volunteer role, the others at the food bank seem to want me to have it, I like having the food, I'm in favor of avoiding waste in all it's forms, and I believe in optimizing resources (it is better that a human eat this food than a chicken, we only have so much space, how much time can we invest in getting this food optimally distributed?).

    on the other side, I feel uncomfortable being "paid" for my volunteer role in a tangible fashion (but not in an intangible fashion - like people greating me with happy smiles when I arrive. I also feel uncomfortable with public recognition, but that doesn't make public recognition "wrong"), I am concerned about misdirection of resources (are we honoring the intent of donors?), and I believe in optimizing resources (is it better that I, human not-in-need, eat this food than chicken who-produces-eggs-for-foodbank? Have we really tried hard enough to get this food into the "right" hands?)

    back again tomoorow.

  7. #17
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    10,059
    CL this is an interesting discussion and your explanation of the nuances of food bank distribution is interesting.

  8. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    1,104
    Cl I've read this thread with interest. I, too, work in our once a week food pantry at the little church in this little village. We have one client who is so thrilled to have organic things, she says, "in my former life I used to eat only organic." I think about that often as when we are sorting and shelving food we'll say to each other, "client will be so happy to see this." One worker is rather judgmental as to the amount one certain family takes..she knows them. I keep trying to remember not to judge either the clients or the volunteer but it can be hard. We do discuss it. I only go to pass out food...not really organize or plan, although I did at the beginning when there were just two of us running it. Perishables do go to the volunteers if not taken, although they often get taken to the "big" food panty in the bigger town that is open every day. Our leader has gotten nearly every church in the area- and there are many small churches, as well as the elementary school involved in food drives. We only serve about 15 families a month and they are regulars. The goal is to serve more of those too proud to come because we might know them. It's a very friendly group, both clients and volunteers.

  9. #19
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    1,975
    I do a LOT of organizing. My family says I have "subclinical OCD". If I work the the station with soup or canned fruit, I have to sort it out so that each type is lined up like the grocery store so that I can grab the right number of cans while still being sure that each client gets a variety. Also, I have to use what we have the most of/expires soonest first, so I might give every family an applesauce plus other and never touch the fruit salad. Other volunteers just grab whatever is closest, so if we switch off, some family might get three applesauce and nothing else thanks to my organizing.

    we average between 20 and 30 families per day depending on the month, open 3 days a week, so 240-360? Our building is an old one room church with a garage next to it full of freezers and refrigerators. (Mostly freezers) and a shedlike Sunday school building for non-perishables. The original church space has been cut into a front room with two bathrooms at the side and a larger back room/staging area packed with shelving and a few more fridge/freezers. It holds three wagons and six skinny agile people. Usually we only have 4 back there.

    We have a van that does a perishables run to different local grocery stores each day, and a big truck that comes once a month with non-perishables and govt. meat./dairy/eggs. Sometimes we also get a pizza or donut donation from the local donut or pizza shop.

  10. #20
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Posts
    1,975
    Today was a hard day to be a starfish thrower at the food bank.

    a woman brought her young neighbor and the neighbor's little boy in to sign up. Then she took me aside to tell me the neighbor has a mental illness, so her behavior might be off the next time she comes in. She also felt a need to tell me she didn't know how long the neighbor would be coming because she had "a man" living with her who is "verbally abusive to both of them. I can hear him all the time from my house." (Is she hoping the girl will run? Get money from the man and not need food? Expecting her to be killed?)

    the boy was the age of my heart grandson. He was very shy and uncertain at first, but he let me find him a new shirt from the rack and give him a bear. (the mom Said "thank you. He doesn't really have any toys."). I listened to her tell me all the reasons he misses school all the time, and I told him "I bet your teacher misses you. I'm a teacher, and I would miss you." I packed them Cheerios, pretzels, crackers, cookies, fruit salad and applesauce and threw in a bag of fruit gummies from my station, found the first bear a friend, and thanked him for coming to visit. And that was all I could do.

    he looked happy when he left, but I was wishing I could have given him a new pair of sneakers (he needed them) and a book at least. And preferably a safe, quiet, predictable place to sleep and eat and play and read and learn and grow.

    when my dd and her best friend first went to help at this food bank, the guy who runs it asked "so, are you just here for your graduation hours?" (required community service hours) and dd said "maybe next year, I'm not old enough to fill them in yet." And her friend said "I'm here because when I was a little kid, you fed me." He went out of state a couple years later and got a college degree. So, Cheerios and a bear aren't much, but maybe they're something?

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •