380 Volunteering at the Lutheran Food PantryTuesday I had the opportunity to work at the Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio newly remodeled Choice Food Pantry. I was very impressed with the new layout and system which I believe provides the client with more responsibility, dignity, and less waste. The food is now all arranged on movable shelving units (can be stocked in the back and moved to the client area), color coded by USDA food pyramid graph. After the client is screened and approved by an experienced staff member, the volunteer picks up the card with the amounts allowed (a family of 10 with 6 children would have very different needs than a retired couple), and walks with the client through the aisles and they pick out what they know their families will eat. People with diabetes or cholesterol problems stop and read the labels. It takes a little longer than the old method where the volunteer selected the items, but in the long run there will be less waste. Tuesday had a special treat that I would have loved--30 piece slabs of wonderful, fresh corn bread from a local restaurant. Only one family unit turned it down. Each family can have as much bread (muffins, bagels, rolls, buns) as they can use up without it counting as a choice.
Because it is the Christmas season, each client also received age and sex appropriate gifts purchased, packaged and wrapped by the churches of central Ohio. Some families received table decorations and stockings with personal care items until we ran out. Adults received knit hats and gloves if they wanted them. Each child in the family received a very nice selection of new books, including a hard cover children's Bible.
Did you know that the "working poor" families and the welfare families in this country have about the same income, but the working families by percentage of income are the most generous of any group? Yes, they donate a higher percentage of their incomes than do the wealthiest income group; and welfare families with about the same income give almost nothing to others. There is dignity in work and self-sufficency. Occasionally, something happens to people of limited means--maybe grandchildren have to be taken in, or a heating bill is outrageous, the support check doesn't come, or there's an illness, so they need a little boost from the food pantry.
LSSCO distributed 2,416,715 lbs. or $2.8 million worth of food, and used 28,000 volunteer hours in 2006. This time of year 80-90 family units are being served at the location where I worked. The poor in the USA are not underfed or poorly clothed; many are overweight or obese, they dress well and have access to or own an automobile. For whatever personal circumstance, they are in a moment--or a month--of hardship. However, the Bible says in Matt. 25:35 that it is the ones feeding the hungry who are benefiting, because they are meeting Jesus, the Son of Man, who will be separating the sheep and goats. Keep that in mind the next time you are needed as a volunteer. There are no goats in heaven; only sheep.
Cross posted at Collecting My Thoughts
Lutheran Social Services