The food pantry community included massage therapists, Reiki practitioners and other healers in the line. At one point, I taught Reiki therapy to volunteers and attuned them to Reiki. Laren was among the students in the volunteer class.
Reiki is health care for the soul. The pantry could definitely use this jewel!
Reiki changes people’s lives and she was no exception. For most Reiki practitioners, the change is slow, subtle, gentle. Some aren’t even aware of anything happening.
I knew Laren’s response to Reiki was exceptional in the first fifteen minutes of the Reiki I class. She took the Reiki 2 class. She took the Reiki 3 class. Several months went by and she took one of my advanced classes.
Well, Laren could have taught that class hands down. Every subject I brought up was one she had experienced. Laren went on to become a Reiki Master Teacher and now attunes her own students.
Laren dropped by the pantry monthly and offered Reiki to the building. I felt the energy shift as she invoked the ChoKuRei, the SeiHeKi, and the HonShaZeShoNen in the pantry room and the hallway.
Laren offered Reiki to the building as people rushed around the hallway, bathroom, and the pantry room, cleaning everything after the pantry closed and before we had to leave the building. No one paid attention to Laren calling in the symbols as she walked around the rooms.
This was energetic healing at work.
She gave particular attention to the corners of the rooms. Reiki energy transformed the pantry into a holy space, erasing the toxic fear of hunger so prevalent in the hallway and the pantry room.
The floors, walls, corners, became holy.
Fear of hunger wasn’t the only issue. Fear of job loss, illness, and fear for the children were common in the pantry. Fear was often palpable.
Reiki therapy is a spiritual wand touching those around us who need blessings and healing.
Reiki practitioners know that when the time is right, Reiki takes on a life of its own, offering healing where it’s needed, using energy which passes through the practitioner’s hands.
Using Reiki, we align ourselves with our divine order to extend blessings.
When I am in the grocery line, or the traffic line, or on a sidewalk, or on a massage table, the space becomes holy when I invite Reiki in.
Reiki heals through chakra points located throughout the body. In a Reiki session, the recipient is reminded who she is. This self-awareness opens the chakra portals for the person to become who she can be.
The future blends with the present and the past at this moment. Possibilities open. This is a miraculous process.
Reiki is a holy ritual. It’s hard to get too much of this divine energy because Reiki is all-loving and all-giving. Reiki wisdom guides the practitioner’s hands during a session to the points of divine connection on the body. Reiki shows us the meaning of life and the teachings understand the sacredness of this process.
Reiki is a jewel not bound by earthly things.
No wonder there are no contraindications to Reiki therapy.
Reiki is a light touch applied to a clothed body. When offering Reiki therapy, I often began a session applying this light touch to the crown of my client’s head.
After three or four minutes, I moved my hands to the occipital ridge at the base of the skull.
There, I placed one hand on the base of the skull and the other hand on the back of the neck. After a few short minutes, I placed my hands on the person’s body, following the lines of the person’s chakras along the spine.
As I placed my hands on the recipient, healing energy traveled up and down the chakras, beginning at the head and ending on the feet. I felt warmth, tingling.
Sometimes I saw images and color while the recipient lay in a sleeplike state on a healing table. Whether or not the word “sleeping” was correct, the person was usually not conscious.
Chakras are the communication system of the body. Chakras share information with one another as they physically, intuitively, energetically, and psychically communicate with one another.
They also talk with chakras in other bodies as well. There is no limit to how chakras communicate.
The pantry visits themselves were healing because the pantry experience healed. When shoppers and volunteers healed from the experience, they saw things in new ways.
When this healing happened, it made the person new.
In this new inner life and outer life, the person moved forward in ways impossible before.
Pantry volunteers served shoppers, volunteers, hungry people.
Distributing groceries all those afternoons in the pantry brought forgiveness and healing.
Fresh vegetables, eggs, and Bread Alone bread offered a healing experience with abundance. As volunteers fed the shoppers, they helped both themselves and each other. Did you want to be healed? Healing and feeding were connected.
The pantry was a safe haven for everyone, both volunteers and shoppers. Healing began and continued as people shared food. This safe haven was necessary because the unspoken word here was the feeling that we were the wrong people.
Unspoken here was the feeling that one’s status in Woodstock could make things right. Without the right status, a person would never be acceptable.
Health issues pointed to a need to cope with spiritual challenges. Healing was on the agenda and getting well was something everyone sought.
In the end, healing was not easy. Before the trip was over and a person felt healed, she experienced many things: acceptance, belief, change, connection, forgiveness, laughter, persistence, and transcendence.
For me, this was amazing. How can a person in a pantry line experience connection? How can a person in a pantry forgive others? The path is simply too rocky.
For some, it was giving up anger, drugs, or a lifestyle that changed when the house was in foreclosure.
Giving and receiving food brought everyone a little peace.
The whole experience was hard for people in the line who were unemployed, broken down psyhologically, economically, socially, spiritually, and physically,
As I watched healing in action, I saw patterns. First came forgiveness which made the healing easier. For sure, healing was harder when a person held a grudge.
The pantry visits themselves were healing. The pantry experience healed. When shoppers and volunteers healed from the experience, they saw things in new ways. This healing, made the person new.
In this new inner life and outer life the person moved forward in ways impossible before.
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“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1
“That person lives in Shandaken. He shouldn’t even be here.”
The pantry served shoppers, volunteers, hungry people. Volunteers fed everyone in the line. No exceptions.
Distributing groceries brought forgiveness and healing. Healing was an after thought of forgiveness.
For me, healing required some commitment and thought. Whether or not this was true, questions always arose:
“Am I ready to be healthy?”
“Can I get well if it’s scary?”
“Can I leave the old me aside if it’s necessary for healing?”
“Why am I going through this?”
“What is the meaning of it all?”
These questions could be painful. Healing can be hard on everyone.
The pantry line had massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, medical intuitives, and other healers.
As a healer, I know healing happens on several levels in our lives: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, mythical. Both healing and getting well were special challenges because many of the people in the hallway, the pantry room, and out in the parking lot didn’t have health care.
While he had his office, Woodstock had Dr. Longmore. After his office closed, things were tough for many. As health care became scarce, everyone became personally involved with the differences between healing and getting well. For some, this was part of the spiritual journey.
Hunger often went beyond a plate of beans or a jar of peanut butter. That’s why food is essential to healing. That’s where homemade soup comes in.
Sharing food in the pantry helped people heal. Fresh vegetables, eggs, and Bread Alone bread offered a healing experience with abundance. As we fed the shoppers, we helped ourselves and each other.
In some cases, the shoppers became the volunteers or the volunteers joined the shoppers. Shoppers came to get food and found they could volunteer. Volunteering changed them. As a person distributed groceries, the volunteer made contact with another person and was able to smile.
Pantry experiences coaxed us out of our own problems. Offering a sense of community gives back so much more.
Do you want to be healed? Healing and feeding are connected.
Sooner or later, we all get sick. Finally, we die.
No one escapes. This truth is harder on hungry people who have no $$$ for health care.
Hungry people are often blamed for their inability to deal with the situation. It’s as if it’s their fault for being down and out in Woodstock. If they lived right, they would be healthier, make more $$$ in their jobs.
If critics stopped and thought about how insufficient nutritious food, improper housing, and inadequate or nonexistent healthcare impacts a person, they might feel differently.
What did it matter that there were no jobs in the area and none of those that came open paid over $8.00 an hour?
Because they were down and out, they must be guilty of something.
They were negative thinkers, lacking faith, and basically lazy. Something.
They were gay, trans, promiscuous, alcoholics. Something.
They were freeloaders, irresponsible, flaky. Something.
Healing and getting well are two different things, acting in different ways. But, whether a person heals, gets well, or both, change happens.
“Do I want to heal?”
“Do I want to be well?”
“What if I come out of this experienced a different person?”
“What if it takes a long time?”
In the midst of this, the pantry offered some normalcy to the shattered lives of hungry people when they took pantry food home to wherever and whatever that was, fixed a meal, and served it to those in the household.
It was supper from the pantry.
Health issues pointed to the spiritual challenges which popped up on the path to the pantry. Healing was on the agenda. We all wanted to get well.
People getting well overcome symptoms. Getting well means doctor’s visits, therapy, pills, creams. These things were simply not an option for pantry shoppers because there was no money.
Symbolic healing occurred in the hallway on pantry days as shoppers and volunteers discussed their diabetes, PTSD, cancer, allergies.
Working and shopping in the pantry was therapy to volunteers and shoppers. These hallway conversations were cheaper than the physical and mental health services they had no money for anyway.
These conversations were essential because talking about a health issue promotes healing. Shared symptoms gave us all support, strength, validity.
Everyone walking through the door to the pantry, whether a shopper or volunteer, was asked to leave the past behind. This experience was different for everyone. But, think about it, how can we move forward into our new lives if we never give anything up.
For some, giving up the past means letting go of things lost: the job, the home, maybe the family, self-esteem, the car, good health, money, insurance, the pet, anger, or drugs.
As the past disappears, the remaining spiritual baggage weighs less and less. Prejudices become fewer. Fears diminish. We heal!
Some things surrendered were physical, some mental, and some emotional. But, one thing is certain, whatever the category, the experiences all had a spiritual aspect.
Giving and receiving food brought everyone a little peace.
Everyone coming to the pantry heals somehow. The pantry community supports and approves hungry individuals as they climb back on the road to wellness and something offering normalcy.
Nobody just wakes up one day and says “I think I’ll go down to the local food pantry and volunteer.” People spending time in pantries all travel down the path. Healing has signposts along the way.
Some needed physical healing. Volunteers occasionally came to the pantry so ill that they were barely able to make it into the building. When this happened, I stationed them at the Items of Dignity table distributing toilet paper, shampoo, razors. They offered one roll of toilet paper and one other item to each shopper.
Each week, Deanna slowly walked the two blocks to the pantry and then worked in the hallway a couple of hours while she gathered enough energy to return home.
“Don’t forget your roll of toilet paper, Judith. We’ve got some hand cream today. Can you use that or would you prefer tooth paste?”
When Deanna finally couldn’t work in the hallway anymore, Rachel gracefully sat at the Items of Dignity table helping shoppers choose their two items. Rachel lived in nearby Mt. Tremper. Her living situation seemed somewhat precarious because every few months she looked for a new place to live. She lived in her car a couple of times.
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After feeding hungry people in Woodstock for over 30 years, volunteers at the Good Neighbor Food pantry were asked to leave the pantry’s space at the Woodstock Reformed Church by June 1, when the pantry will close..
This didn’t happen because there were no hungry people to use the pantry. This pantry has been one of the largest in the area since it expanded in the economic downfall of 2008. Before that time, shoppers were mostly a couple dozen single homeless men and Woodstock colorful characters.
With the economic downfall, patronage escalated from 25 people per week to hundreds. Hungry people filled the halls. The line filed out the door into the parking lot.
Before the economic downfall, people came in and got one or two each of four basic items: cereal, tuna fish, peanut butter, soup. About the time that the crowds began to shop for food, the food bank changed the system to include fresh produce and a three-day-supply of food for every person in the household.
People left the pantry with bags of food: eggs, vegetables, fruit, yogurt, items of dignity.
Church members and townspeople never really accepted these changes.
People resented the changes they didn’t ask for. This was understandable. No one likes change, especially uninvited change.
They liked feeling only a few people in town needed food.
They liked thinking the pantry was “theirs” when it really belonged to the Food Bank. After all, that’s where the food came from. That’s where volunteer training came from. That’s where food and rent grants originated.
With the changes in food served came training classes at the Food Bank. Funds became available to assist pantries with rent, and utilities. At that time, the volunteer coordinator applied for and received a $1,000 rent grant to pay the church annually.
The $1,000 rent grant was new for the Woodstock Reformed Church. No food pantry volunteers had paid rent money to help the membership.
At the time, the intention was to increase the amount annually. $8,000 was a long range goal.
$8,000 was not out of line if the refrigerators and freezers were moved from the unpainted barn in the parking lot to the church basement.
A nationally known fundraising guru, Kim Kline, taught interested nonprofit volunteers how to raise money. She based her success on the premise that givers give. She told everyone in the class exactly what to do.
After this class, pantry volunteers in Woodstock did exactly as she instructed.
These fundraising efforts at the pantry made the Good Neighbor Food Pantry a success story. Secrets of successful fundraising are outlined in detail on pages 196 and 197 of the book “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore.”
The Good Neighbor Food Pantry need not close. There is time to raise the money needed. There are probably still volunteers in this pantry who remember these skills taught by Kim Kline.
There is still time to feed the many hungry people who need this food. The need is greater now than it has ever been.
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Thank you for your interest in feeding hungry people. Our need is greater now than ever before.
Woodstock, New York
We live in a country today in which people struggle for food. While hunger reaches historic levels, some are unaware of the plight of their neighbors. Others are not concerned. Food insecurity doesn’t seem relevant. Even pandemic hunger cannot convince everyone.
One child in seven lives in poverty. The family regularly chooses between food and gas, food and medicine, food and rent.
Adults often work more than one job. Until, with the pandemic, many people’s incomes disappear.
Retirees find themselves too old to work, have more month than money, and try to hide their situation from children and grandchildren.
Our elected leaders have not chosen to address this situation with even a fair minimum wage.
Beginning in 2007, I fed hungry people in one food pantry for several years and then started another food pantry in a nearby community needing one.
In 2013, I began to write about hunger. My experiences and lessons learned filled books and a blog.
In 2018, I began a consciousness-raising practice on weekends at the Mower’s Meadow Flea Market in Woodstock, New York.
Time spent feeding the hungry taught me this:
There is no excuse for anyone in our great nation to go hungry.
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And, finally, don’t forget to tell them about our key hat!
Meet our new fashion model! Mikayla is wearing our latest creation: a knit cap with a key embroidered on the cuff.
A symbol of homelessness, this hat tells our story BEAUTIFULLY. Hopefully you’ll enjoy wearing it as much as others do. It’s only $15. Please go to www.thurmangreco.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to order your very own key hat!
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Congratulations! You had a food drive!
Your work isn’t done yet. Now is a good time to think about your next food drive. It will be easier and more fun than the last one because you know more about your tasks!
When you organize for the next food drive, you’ll get to see how your last one worked.
Celebrate your goal. Did you have anyone helping you?
This is a good time to go out for a pizza or ice cream. Enjoy what you did and discuss how you helped your community as well as yourselves!
Pat yourself on your back.
A few weeks after your food drive, check in with the food pantry or other group who received all your collections.
Were the foods you collected useful?
Were you able to get enough of one item for the group to have a surplus?
What foods would have been appreciated which were not collected?
How can you improve your future food drives?
Now is a good time to plan your next food drive!
design a fact sheet that lists some foods that are needed. (The agency you
donated the food to may already have one you can use).
Write and send out a press release about your food drive and plans for the next one.
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Woodstock, New York
It’s easier than you think.
Choose the food pantry, homeless shelter, school, church, food bank, or soup kitchen to receive the food you collect.
Contact your recipient, and learn what items the hungry people need. Try to be specific. Can they only accept canned food items or can they use frozen and fresh foods? What about pet food?
If they need pet food or food for homeless people, for example, request those items (with specific food item suggestions) at your drive.
Decide how you want to collect the donated food.
The method I prefer is, of course, the one that worked for me several times. I recommend this method:
Gather some large empty grocery bags in good condition.
Attach a letter to each one saying something like:
“We are having a food drive in this neighborhood. Please fill this bag with food and set it out on your entryway on ………………………….. when it will be picked up between 00:00 and 00:00. Include am and pm to be more specific.
We need the following kinds of food:……………………..
Your donated food will be donated to ……………………………… Thank you for your generosity. If you have any questions, please call…………………………………. Signed…………………………………….”
Set the bags out at every address in the area you selected.
On the appointed date, return to the addresses and pick up the bags of food.
Deliver them to the selected food pantry, homeless shelter, school.
Pat yourself on your back. You did a great job!
My experience with this food drive method is that people respond positively because you give them bags, tell them exactly what food items you need, and return to pick up the food at a specific time on an exact date.
Thank you in advance for all you are doing to feed your neighbors.
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Have a wonderful day!
Actually, there are literally thousands of foods which are good for a food drive. Choose the foods that make eating easy.
Many food drives and food distribution activities are springing up throughout our country. Thank Goodness!
People are shopping at food pantries and food distribution centers in greater numbers than ever before. People who never, ever, even paid attention to food pantries now find themselves in lines.
We have now reached the point where we all have choices: If we don’t need to shop at a pantry, then we need to give food to a pantry.
So, then, the question: What are good things to give?
The answer: any foods which make eating easy.
Breakfast foods include:
cereal, granola, granola bars, protein bars, shelf stable milk, juice.
peanut butter, jelly, canned fruit, canned pasta, tuna, mayonnaise, and catsup.
pasta with sauce, taco kits, canned soups, stews, canned beans, macaroni and cheese, canned tuna, salmon, sardines, chicken.
People shopping at a food pantry also need items such as salt, pepper, sugar, seasonings, cooking oil, mayonnaise, mustard, catsup, paper towels, paper napkins, forks, knives, spoons. Is there an item that you use regularly, maybe that item will be good for a food pantry gift.
Items of Dignity:
soap, shampoo, laundry soap, dishwashing soap, sanitary napkins, toilet paper. toothpaste, tooth brushes. razors
diapers, baby soaps, baby lotion, baby foods
pet food, both dried and canned; cat litter, puddle pads, gently used pet beds, leashes.
food that does not need refrigeration, food that can be distributed in single servings
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A food pantry is what it is because of three things:
the economic situation at the moment
the people who shop there.
The people come together looking for groceries but often, they want and need far more.
While the coronavirus pandemic rages, the food pantry lines get longer every pantry day because people, families, deal with change they didn’t ask for.
In short, they are rewriting their destiny stories without a road map or instructions.
A number of the people in the pantry, both shoppers and volunteers, didn’t know about food pantries until circumstances set up a situation where they suddenly looked around a room and realized where they were.
There is a name for their category – SITUATIONAL POOR.
A person fits into the situational poor category when s/he lands in a situation created by an event such as a hurricane, fire, floor, pandemic, or other disaster which destroys the home, car, job.
Pantries offer much – peace, community, spiritual connection, groceries. I always think of a food pantry in the basement of a church as a cross between a church service and a busy pizza place.
A food pantry, and those connected with it, are not a program. They are a community. As volunteers, all we really do is open the door. As all the hungry people walk through the door, they undergo a change somehow.
Each person in a pantry, in whatever capacity, has experienced rejection in some way – too young, too old, too crazy, too sick, too poor, not poor enough.
The food pantry experience does not heal a person, nor does it change the story.
The food pantry experience does not offer therapy.
The food pantry is, instead, a conduit for each person’s own healing.
FOOD PANTRY RULES
Sign your name in the register as you enter the pantry.
Find a place in line.
Do not crowd or block the door to the pantry room.
No more than 2 shoppers are allowed in the pantry at one time.
No more than one new shopper is allowed in the pantry at one time.
Shop for a three-day supply of food for everyone in your household.
Place your selections on the table as you shop.
Respect the restrictions on certain foods.
Finish your shopping in 10 minutes.
Once you begin to bag your groceries, do not continue to shop.
Because the food availability is different each time you shop, it is best to visit the food pantry weekly.
P.S. The rules may be different at the pantry where you shop. Each food pantry is different. The space is different. The times the pantry is open is different. The management is different.
These specific rules were used in the food pantry I managed where the people were many, the space small, and the hours few.
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December 21st is the Winter Solstice for 2020.
The Winter Solstice is the annual celebration of the yearly rebirth of the sun.
Please take a few moments today to send healing, acceptance, regeneration, and rebirth to all living beings – both plant and animal.
Visualize a world in which all living beings have enough food and water to nourish themselves into wellness in 2021.
Take a moment to release those things which no longer positively serve our planet and its inhabitants.
Find a few minutes sometime today to reflect on our planetary needs. Reflect on how it will feel to live on a healthy planet where all beings experience wellness and coexist to honor and support one another.
Thank you for your healing thoughts and prayers.
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I got excited!
A letter from the Capital City Rescue Mission sent me a thank you note! Just 2 weeks ago, they sent me an appeal letter, complete with return envelope.
And, today, I got a letter from Covenant House.
So what, you say.
Well, so that. That’s what!
When I managed the local food pantry here in Woodstock, I sent out appeal letters every year to a few thousand people. I never, ever, saw an appeal letter from another food pantry or soup kitchen or halfway house.
My letters weren’t nearly so nice as the ones I got from the Capital City Rescue Mission or Covenant House.
The pantry appeal letters were hand addressed, printed on a copy machine and hand folded.
Our return address on the envelopes appeared compliments of a volunteer hand-stamping each one individually. A volunteer got the return address stamp at the Catskill Art and Office for less than $25.
Our mailers went out each year reeking of poverty. No professional letterhead. No nice paper. They were just an appeal from a group of people who needed to keep going from day-to-day.
But, they worked. Those letters and the follow-up thank-you notes brought in enough money to meet our needs. We always had enough for gas and sandwiches for the staff on the monthly food pantry stocking day.
When Guy dented the fender in his car in our parking lot, we had the money for repairs.
When we showed up in the food pantry one day to distribute food, there were no working lights in the basement of the church.
I never quite figured out what happened. But this I do know: Richard Spool arrived in just a few minutes and dealt with the problem. We had enough $$$ to get all the parts we needed at Houst.
And, this I do know: The hungry people were fed, the lights were fixed, Richard saved the day, and the account still had a few dollars left.
But, now, back to the story.
Well, today I did. The appeal mailer came in about 2 weeks ago and I quickly sent a check and a copy of my book (for encouragement).
Today I got a thank-you with another self-addressed envelope from the Capital City Rescue Mission. (I think I’ll send another copy of my book for them to share. ) I’m going to send along another check. I’m anxious to see how this plays out.
Meanwhile, if you are a food pantry, soup kitchen, halfway house and need money, you can learn all my secrets starting on page 196 of my book, “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”. I held nothing back. If you read this information, you’ll have the recipe for fundraising success.
In my heart, I want every pantry, soup kitchen, and halfway house to be rich enough to feed everyone who needs the food. I want the food to be top quality – the best.
And, I want every pantry to have enough $$$ to fix the cars and trucks and the lights in the building.
I learned these secrets at Rowe in Vermont when Kim Kline gave her annual talk.
If you feel you can’t take my word for all this success, get Kim Kline’s books and read them. Or, better yet, attend one of her weekends (when the pandemic is over).
Remember, in our country, there is no excuse for anyone to go hungry.
If you’re reading this post and you don’t work for a pantry or soup kitchen, you don’t have to wait for a mailer. All you have to do is contact a food pantry and make a donation.
You don’t have to send a check. If you want, you can hold a food drive and then haul over all the food you gathered. The important thing is that there are many ways to support those who feed the hungry.
And, lately, there are more and more hungry people than we ever thought possible. Your help and support will be appreciated.
Thank you for your generosity and thank you for reading this article.
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