At a time when people are busy wrapping gifts and planning festivities, some are struggling just to pay the rent and buy gas to get to work. Hungry is not a category of people. It’s a situation that happens. It can happen to anyone. December is especially hard on those visiting a food pantry for the first time. It’s the reason I write this guide
Leave fear, embarrassment, shame, tears at the door. Most people using pantries are finally in a place where they can rebuild and heal. When the struggle for food is relieved, life finally feels as if it’s getting better. For many, the pantry is a safe place. This is a good group to join.
Arrive a hour before the pantry opens This makes for a long wait but there’s a better selection right at the beginning. Use this time to network with your line neighbors. They can be a resource if you’re trying to navigate your way through Department of Social Services, being foreclosed upon, get your car repaired.
Learn how long you’ll be in the shopping room, what foods are usually found on the shelves, whether you get to choose the food or receive a bag of groceries, what other pantries people shop at.
Bring some ID. Some pantries require much: photo ID, proof of residence, proof that other family members exist.
Once you’re registered, shop every time you’re allowed. With luck, you’ll find a pantry offering weekly visits. People sometimes just don’t go if they still have any SNAP card (food stamp) money or if they have a few bucks left over from a paycheck. Pantries have different food every week and you may miss out on some real savings by not shopping often.
Some pantries have periodic visits from nutritionists offering recipes and food tastings. Don’t be shy. Ask for information you need to adjust to the new way of cooking offered by pantries where food choices are different from the super market. If you’re suddenly cooking with only a crock pot or microwave, the nutritionist can be a valuable resource.
You may see fresh fruits and vegetables you don’t recognize. At each pantry visit, take home one new food, find a recipe and prepare it. If you do this, your cooking skills will be vastly improved over time.
Volunteer. Giving away food and sharing smiles with those around you offers its own spirituality. You’ll interact with people you never thought in your wildest dreams you would ever even meet. Pantry shoppers are traveling down a path away from hunger. Go with this journey which opens the door to inner growth.
Stick with this new routine. It’s the 21st century way to get delicious, nutritious groceries for your household. It’s been years since pantries offered exclusively emergency food.
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Peace and food for all..
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