Since living here, we have met a very sweet couple at church named Gene and Julia. Gene is “in charge” of the local Food Pantry here in Giddings. It’s definitely a passion for him (and Julia), and if you ask him about it, you will be blessed after listening to him talk about the food pantry and the way it has helped our town and the surrounding communities over the last few years.
It’s a little bit hard to explain (on a blog, anyway) but I’ll do my best.
On the 2nd Friday of the month (and the following day, Saturday) they have the local food pantry open to any and all who want to come; all you have to do is present an ID (picture). Gene orders food on the Tuesday before (from the C*pital Area F**d Bank in Austin) and it is delivered on the 2nd Friday, for distribution that day and the next. On those two days they usually serve around 300-400 people (which represents about 300-400 families)–if I’m wrong or misspoke, sorry, Julia, but I think that’s right….
On the 4th Friday of the month they have Fresh Food for Families. This is also provided by the C*pital Area F**d Bank. (But, for Fresh Food for Families, Gene cannot order food. The local food pantry just receives whatever the Capital Area F**d Bank sends them–there’s no choice.) They deliver fresh foods on the same day: fruits, vegetables, bread to Giddings and they distribute it to the locals. Again, all they have to do to qualify is to have an ID.
On the Saturday following the 4th Friday they have HOPE, which is only for those 60 and older. The local food bank provides canned goods, non-perishable staples, and the leftover fresh food to those who are specifically in need (and over 60)–although anyone over 60 can come on the other days, too, this is just something “extra” for them.
There are several people in our church that volunteer to work at the food bank on those days (4 total). I really enjoyed hearing about it when Gene and Julia took us to Whataburger last Wednesday night (with John and Cindy as well) and wanted to get more involved. So, this past Friday I went to volunteer. (I couldn’t volunteer on Saturday because of the 10K).
Gene told me to show up at 12:00 (the food pantry didn’t “open” until 1:30) to help sort and start packing food. When I showed up, people were already lined up outside and the line was wrapped around the building.
Once all the food is delivered, one particular volunteer, Kathy, helps sort and label how much each person can get. The “average” number of people that come to Fresh Food for Families (on the 4th Friday) is about 150. So, for example, if there are 3,000 pounds of bananas delivered, then you divide that by 150. Each person would get 20 pounds. Kathy has a scale and she “measures out” 20 pounds of bananas. (It’s all just approximate, not an exact amount)…so, Kathy “sorts” once everything is delivered. Then the volunteers get busy “bagging” the assorted fruits/veggies.
Once all the food is bagged and sorted, the recipients get a number (that shows what order they can come up and register).
After I helped Kathy sort and weigh food and bagged oranges and bananas for awhile. But, most of my afternoon was spent on the computer, checking people in.
People coming to the food pantry don’t really get a choice of what they get because everything is already pre-sorted and pre-bagged (unless they have babies and then they can specifically ask for–and they try to accommodate–for baby food on “Food Pantry” day, if there is any). Otherwise everything is put in a shopping cart and then there are several volunteers who help people get the food out to their cars.
So, that’s what I did on Friday afternoon. I got there about 12:00 (noon) and left at 4:10–I really enjoyed it! And, I hope, it is something that I am able to do every month that I am able.
And, just because Bob wanted me to take a picture with him–here’s Bob, he goes to our church and was my “friend” while we checked people in).