Food Pantries feed the hungry…and very successfully at that, actually. After all, there are very few stories right now about starving people dying in the streets. We Food Pantry volunteers can pat ourselves on the back for that, at least.
But, so much more happens in a Food Pantry beyond feeding the hungry.
For starters, thousands of volunteers are kept gainfully occupied and off the streets as we (wo)man the pantries.
The United States Department of Agriculture disposes of thousands and thousands of pounds of surplus foods every year in Food Pantries. Unfortunately, though, the USDA seems to have a somewhat embarrassed attitude about the distribution of agricultural surpluses. Anybody who thinks about it quickly realizes that it’s impossible to grow just exactly what we need every year. It’s much better to have too much than too little. So, the USDA needs the Food Pantries to dispose of this surplus. Sure beats hauling it off to the landfill.
Thank you USDA! I just wish you felt better about the job you do.
Supermarkets use Food Pantries to dispose of food they can’t sell. By donating produce,
packaged shelf staples,
grocers avoid dump fees, discourage dumpster divers, accrue tax savings, and tell the world about how many thousands of dollars they donated to feed the hungry.
Churches throughout this country feed the hungry in Food Pantries located in their basements. That is, all except for the famous St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco where Sara Miles put the pantry on the altar. She subsequently wrote a book about it entitled “Take This Bread”. I hope you get a chance to read it.
Congregations label their Food Pantries as outreach but I don’t buy into that concept. What we’re all doing, really, is celebrating the enormous abundance existing in this country…in this world…on this planet.
Environmentalists use Food Pantries to divert food bound for the landfill. It’s amazing when you think about it. Several million people in our country are prevented from starving to death when they shop at a Food Pantry and take home produce, dairy products, meats, baked goods, shelf staples that would otherwise have ended up at the landfill.
Schools throughout our fair nation distribute food to children to take home on the weekend. The Backpack Programs offer food to children who have none in their households.
It’s a real ego trip for whole segments of our society. Everyone feels all warm and fuzzy about food donated to Food Banks. This includes farmers, grocers, food manufacturers, restaurants, bakers, religious and civic institutions feeding the hungry, and, of course, the people who read the stories about the generosity of these businesses.
This warm and fuzzy feeling we all get when we realize which businesses are contributing to feeding the hungry rubs off positively on Food Banks. They, thankfully, are very influential charities as a result. Food Banks rank right up there with hospitals, the United Way, and the Y.
And, it’s all good. Food Banks need the $$$ to keep the whole industry going. The demand for the food keeps growing and growing because the minimum wage jobs don’t pay enough $$$ to allow workers to buy groceries. SNAP benefits get whittled away each year. There’s not much left except the Food Pantry.
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