The other day, a meeting brought all the Managers together. While that’s not uncommon, the location for this one was. We met at the main warehouse for the North Texas Food Bank.
This NTFB facility was impressive, let me tell you. It’s huge, stacked with shelves a good 20’+ high, all loaded with pallets and pallets of food. There’re sections for canned and boxed and bagged goods, for fresh produce, another for frozen and refrigerated, the whole works. This place easily covers several acres.
After our meeting, we all volunteered for a few hours. The Coordinator explained that while they had so many paid staff members, a great deal of the work needed to get food to the people must be done by volunteers. She also noted that it was a Monday, and that volunteers were especially hard to come by on weekdays.
We were split into two teams and assigned tasks. One group would load a box of staples; basic foods that would provide a family with roughly a week’s worth of meals. The other team would go through food donated by groceries and distributors, separating the wheat from the chaff, if you will; they had to find and sort food which could be passed on to needy folks, and discard stuff that was either not suitable, expired, or otherwise not usable. Junk food was definitely among the latter group.
Let me tell you, a group of 50 some bakery-café managers is likely more horsepower than the average bunch of volunteers. We’re used to hard physical work done at production speed, and it showed.
I was with the stable box loaders. Twenty five of us lined up and packed a constantly moving line of boxes with canned meat, fruit and veggies, (None in syrup, and all pretty darn healthy versions; I checked), beans, pasta, dry and boxed milk, (1%, no hormones or other nasty junk), cereal dry and cooked. It took 48 of those boxes, roughly 16” x 12” X 12”, to make up a pallet. We packed and stacked 10 pallets of ‘em, 480 boxes, in about 2 ½ hours.
Four hundred and eighty boxes; not bad, huh?
Not bad at all, except that this one entity, NTFB, feeds roughly 90,000 hungry people every day. That’s a nine with four zeros, gang… Fact is, according to the Coordinator, if they were reaching everyone who needs help in north Texas, just the 16 or so counties of north Texas, mind you, they’d need to be feeding 300,000 a day.
Sobering, isn’t it?
Fact is, NTFB is relatively blessed. They don’t have to buy all the food they distribute. Those grocers and distributors generously donate a decent chunk of what goes out. Again though, without volunteers and donations, NTFB would and could fail.
Then what would happen to those 300,000 fellow human beings?
A brief video we watched prior to getting down to work showed who gets this food: Single moms with little ones, and seniors on a fixed income, many others. These folks often live in places where there is literally no store that sells what they really need within a distance they can get to. They don’t have cars, of course. Often enough, they must make a daily choice between eating and rent. The NTFB has adopted a hub and spoke model, working with small, local distribution points, to get the food out to those counties, to the folks who need it.
I’m sorry to say that it took an eye opener like this for me to wake up.
Wherever you are, there is an NTFB, or a derivative thereof.
Find them, and pitch in.
Donate food, money, your time, care, and energy.
Next time you’re at the grocery and they ask at the register if you want to donate a buck, or five, or ten to The Your-Town-Here food bank, don’t even think about it. Imagine the NTFB, and/or the none near you, that big warehouse, empty, because nobody cared.
Then say yes.
Always say yes.