Hunger Is Not a Disease

Do you work at a pantry? Do you shop at a pantry? Do you donate to a pantry? – Part 6

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THERE’S NO WAY TO GET AROUND IT.

Efforts by pantries and soup kitchens to connect with hungry people  make them inefficient.

A person may spend several hours on the phone just trying to find  a pantry  open on a specific day that s/he has transportation.  And, calling ahead is important.  Often the list a person is working with  is inaccurate/out of date.

MOST IMPORTANT:   PANTRY SHOPPERS NEED TO DETERMINE IN ADVANCE IF THEY’RE GOING TO BE ADMITTED TO THE PANTRY THEY’RE TRYING TO SHOP AT.

On the Food Bank front, no one can call the Food Bank of Northeastern New York or the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley disorganized or inefficient.  The delivery systems, quality management, efficient consumer response, and sensitivity to the needs of the different agencies is above reproach.

How the employees at these 2 Food Banks can soldier on year after year is beyond me.  I visit a Food Bank weekly.

I PLACE, ON AVERAGE,  2-3 ORDERS MONTHLY.   A Reservoir Food Pantry volunteer is  in the produce area of the food bank every Monday.  The employees are always courteous, friendly, professional.  Never has an order been botched.  This is an amazing record when one considers there are only 80 employees (some part time) for 1028 agencies.

Inefficiencies are seen in the enormous labor involved in a food drive.  And…the Food Banks thrive on food drives.

FOOD DRIVES TAKE AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF WORK ON THE PART OF MANY PEOPLE.   An “army” is needed to advertise the food drive, determine and monitor the collection points, motivate people to give the food to the hungry and then take it to the collection points.

Once that happens, the food is assembled at a central point for sorting.  Finally, after much handling, this food ends up on its way to a food pantry.  Many  people involved in a food drive project are volunteers.

Fortunately the HPNAP people in New York State  instituted client choice guidelines  in 2008  so  volunteers  no longer spend hours filling bags of food to be distributed to the shoppers.

When food bags were distributed,  people would be given bags of food:

which they possibly could/could not cook based on their kitchen facilities.

and which they possibly could/could not eat based on their health issues.

With client choice, the food collected is much more efficiently distributed. ( Shoppers take home the food they can use.

ON THE SUPERMARKET FRONT, THERE ARE COMMUNITIES, NEIGHBORHOODS, AND RURAL AREAS THROUGHOUT OUR COUNTRY WITHOUT GROCERY STORES.  We call these areas “food deserts”.  Food pantries and soup kitchens  replace  disappearing supermarkets in inner-city and rural locations.

In a different system:

one where adequate food stamps are distributed to hungry people,

one where an adequate minimum wage meets the housing, transportation, and food needs of a household,

many people now lined up at food pantries and soup kitchens could shop at the store of their choice and purchase the food they want and can eat.  There would be profit making businesses in these inner city and rural areas.

But, then, what would happen to all of us who spend our lives volunteering and working so that others might eat?

How could we continue to reduce landfill clutter?  How could we reduce  dumpster and composter costs?

How could we continue to recycle all the wonderful produce if there is no place for it to go?

FOOD PANTRIES AND SOUP KITCHENS FUNCTION SUCCESSFULLY BECAUSE COSTS ARE MINIMAL.  Everything is donated:

Volunteer time

Recycled food which has been diverted from a landfill

Pantry Space.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

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