I just spent half the day volunteering at a local food bank. I was shocked at how few patrons said “thank you” or even looked at those of us giving them food. I tried to kindly great everyone and assist in filling their boxes and bags. But I was sad to see those who seemed ungrateful that they only got one chicken and not two, or one bag of pasta and not two.
Outside we handed out “fresh” produce. Sadly, some of the grocery store donations were ready to be composted and went directly into the food bank compost bin. Why did the grocers wait so long to donate it? Why bother transporting it at all? Food bank customers aren’t pigs, willing to eat just anything, they are normal people; with families, friends, and oftentimes jobs.
I imagine a world where grocers could charge less for their food. I imagine a world where we could eat locally grown natural foods that are in season. If we didn’t demand things that had to be imported and transported, grocers wouldn’t need to charge so much for us to buy them. If food were less expensive, we could all go buy our own food and nothing would need to be shipped around town to food banks. This is the way I wish it was. Not because I think everyone “should” have to fend for themselves…but because I’m sad and angry to see ungrateful people. Ungrateful wealthy folks who want a ripe strawberry in Washington in January. (They won’t grow here in the winter==so must be shipped in). Ungrateful food bank customers who wish to be picky and greedy when there are a hundred others waiting in line behind them in the cold rain. And it breaks my heart that so many of us living in this great country cannot afford to feed ourselves healthy meals, cannot afford health care or housing or lots of other “normal” things even while paying our taxes dutifully. I understand the issues are all very complex and deeper than this…
The beautiful pieces of my experience today were the grateful ones, who said “thank you” and smiled at me. The food bank manager’s wife, who made a home cooked Indian meal for all of us volunteers. For my friends who served alongside me who know where I’ve been in the past year. And for the satisfaction of watching those stacked crates empty out and see a few hundred people leave with heavy, loaded sacks and boxes of good food before Christmas.
This is mostly a negative blog story. I’m just all too aware of our human depravity. Our sway towards sin. People looking out for themselves, even pushing and yelling at each other, hungry and greedy. So much food in one place. All free. It’s so tempting. But there are so many outside, waiting, needing, poor. And what if we all gave from the cream of the crop, the best of what we had to give first, when donating to food banks? I wish food banks had the best produce, the freshest, the finest goods to offer, along with healthy menu recipes in several languages and with several culturally appropriate options.
May we each be thankful today, for what we have, what we can do to help, and for finding help when we may need it someday ourselves.