AuthorTopic: The Food Pantry Chronicles  (Read 1990 times)

Offline RE

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The Food Pantry Chronicles
« on: November 06, 2014, 11:57:28 PM »
Day 1: Thursday, November 6, 2014

As I mentioned over in The SNAP Card Gourmet thread, in conjunction with trying to live on a Poverty Level Budget, I am also Volunteering at one of the local privately run Food Charity Pantries on Thursdays.  The Pantry is staffed by Volunteers and is Open Mon-Thu from 1-5PM.

It is housed in an old building with no markings, you have to know it is there and what it is.  It is on an oddly shaped triangular piece of property across from a defunct rail line in Palmer AK.  I'll get some pics eventually, but for the first day I didn't want to put off any of the people by shooting pics.  It was at one time a home, then a local grocery store for a while, at least that is what one of the veteran volunteers told me.  I don't know how long it has been operating as a Food Charity Pantry.

The sources of Food come from Da Federal Goobermint, local Farmers, local Food Stores that donate some stuff, and Food Drives done by various churches and organizations like the Boy Scouts etc.  The Mormons dropped on us several ENORMOUS bags of powdered milk and flour and dried beans that have to be divied up into individual portions.

There are regulations of course that have to be followed from Da Goobermint on handing out the Goobermint stuff, there appears to be more discretion in distributing out the stuff that is donated by private organizations.  For Da Goobermint stuff, you can come in once a month, and by no means could you feed yourself on just this stuff.  However, observing the size of the boxes and what went in them given to the patrons who came in today, in total I think you probably can make it through 2 weeks at least on one of these boxes.

Getting my feet wet today, my first job was in taking various boxes of Donated Canned Food and placing on the shelves by type.  Canned Chili goes here, canned veggies there, tomato sauce another shelf, etc.  It's not too carefully organized because what you get in changes all the time, although some things are very regular, like canned soups.

Organizing up the latest round of donations with one other Veteran Volunteer took about 2 hours.  The Canned Food area is in a room about 400 sq ft I would estimate, but very odd dimensions so it is tough to be exact.  Also in this area is a large Walk-In Freezer where much of the Meat and Fish is stored, but there also are 2 or 3 other large Chest Freezers which have a lot of perishable meats in them as well.

After finishing organizing up the Canned Goods, my next project was making Bags of Spuds from large 50 lb bags donated by local Alaska Farmers and stored down in the Basement, which is very cool and good storage place for root veggies.  I used old shopping bags from stores to make each portion, which was about 5 lbs.  After bagging and tying them up, I brought them upstairs to the main distribution room, and the clients could take one on the way out the door.  Not sure if everyone was eligible though for one of these bags.

Far as the patrons are concerned, it was mostly Old Folks today, though there were some teenagers as well who came along with grandma and carried out her stuff.  Mostly White folks.  When I dropped in there last week to Volunteer, there was a family of four with 2 little girls around 5 and 8 or so, they were Natives.

Over the 4 hour period we were Open today, I would estimate we served around 16-20 people/families, around 4-5/hour.  There is one person working at the laptop checking off what is given out to each person and they have a certain amount of flexibility in selecting stuff to go in their box, so each person takes 10-15 minutes to serve.  Another Volunteer goes and finds the stuff they ask for if we have it.  With One Trip per Family allowed per month, with 4 days of operation/week, we can probably serve around 350 folks in need of Food Assistance.  There are I think 2 other Food Pantry Charities in the neighborhood, if they are similar in size, then total would be around 1000 Families/month, which I think is plenty for our size community right now, since total population of Palmer is only around 6500 Human Souls.  In order to be Eligible, you have to prove your Residency in Palmer, and have your Social Security Card, proof of Income etc.  I am not sure yet what the income eligibility requirements are, how low your income needs to be.  Over 60 folks do seem to have additional eligibility, not sure how that works yet either.

Given that Palmer is a Farming community with a small population, I think it would be quite easy to ramp up similar Food Distribution to serve more of the population if/when there is Dollar Collapse and failure of JIT shipping.  However, over time the amount of Canned Goods would begin to disappear, and this would have to be compensated for by what can be produced locally.  The variety would drop considerably of course.  However, as long as the transition was made over a couple of years, I don't see any reason why anybody up here would Starve or need to go Cannibalistic.

Other things I am not yet certain of is how this works in conjunction with the SNAP Card program.  I THINK it is entirely separate, even the Federal Goobermint end, so you can get a Box of Food from us in ADDITION to what you can buy with your SNAP card.  Together, this is DEFINITELY plenty of food to eat each month.  I am pretty sure you also could hit the other Food Charities here once a month, because this is not Networked so nobody at one Charity knows what another Charity has handed out to a given Family.

It would be much harder/impossible to do something similar in Big Shities, because the population is so large and because once JIT distribution fails, these locations do not have local food production to fall back on.  Another good reason to GTFO of Dodge and move to a low population zone with local food production.

It's really nice to be doing something Local now as well as writing on the net in covering the collapse.  All the folks volunteering were nice Old Ladies, I was the only Male there, although there is supposedly one other guy who volunteers and drives around to make Pickups from the local farms.  We are fortunate that real collapse hasn't hit up here yet, although definitely there is a significant portion of the population in need of Food Assistance.  Since the SNAP Card program probably will not last in perpetuity, it is important to get these Local Food Charities functioning well to be able to handle larger numbers as time goes by here and more folks fall off the economic cliff.

I will keep a Diary here of my days working at the Pantry.  It's a very good feeling inside doing this, so I recommend it to every Doomer not himself or herself yet off the cliff.  Even the Bible says this is a good thing to do.

Quote
Matthew 25:35

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

Isaiah 58:10

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

Proverbs 28:27

Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

James 2:14-18

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

On this topic, Panentheists and Christians (real ones) can agree.

RE
Save As Many As You Can

Offline RE

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The Food Pantry Chronicles
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2014, 01:24:59 AM »

Off the keyboard of RE


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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 7, 2014


http://www.faithfellowshipcp.org/uploads/2/6/9/3/26937254/2090382_orig.jpg


Discuss this article at the Diner Pantry


Day 1: Thursday, November 6, 2014


FoodBank1As I mentioned over in The SNAP Card Gourmet thread, in conjunction with trying to live on a Poverty Level Budget, I am also Volunteering at one of the local privately run Food Charity Pantries on Thursdays.  The Pantry is staffed by Volunteers and is Open Mon-Thu from 1-5PM.


It is housed in an old building with no markings, you have to know it is there and what it is.  It is on an oddly shaped triangular piece of property across from a defunct rail line in Palmer AK.  I’ll get some pics eventually, but for the first day I didn’t want to put off any of the people by shooting pics.  It was at one time a home, then a local grocery store for a while, at least that is what one of the veteran volunteers told me.  I don’t know how long it has been operating as a Food Charity Pantry.


The sources of Food come from Da Federal Goobermint, local Farmers, local Food Stores that donate some stuff, and Food Drives done by various churches and organizations like the Boy Scouts etc.  The Mormons dropped on us several ENORMOUS bags of powdered milk and flour and dried beans that have to be divied up into individual portions.


There are regulations of course that have to be followed from Da Goobermint on handing out the Goobermint stuff, there appears to be more discretion in distributing out the stuff that is donated by private organizations.  For Da Goobermint stuff, you can come in once a month, and by no means could you feed yourself on just this stuff.  However, observing the size of the boxes and what went in them given to the patrons who came in today, in total I think you probably can make it through 2 weeks at least on one of these boxes.


http://www.hbcfitchburg.com/sites/default/files/outreach/food_pantry.jpgGetting my feet wet today, my first job was in taking various boxes of Donated Canned Food and placing on the shelves by type.  Canned Chili goes here, canned veggies there, tomato sauce another shelf, etc.  It’s not too carefully organized because what you get in changes all the time, although some things are very regular, like canned soups.


Organizing up the latest round of donations with one other Veteran Volunteer took about 2 hours.  The Canned Food area is in a room about 400 sq ft I would estimate, but very odd dimensions so it is tough to be exact.  Also in this area is a large Walk-In Freezer where much of the Meat and Fish is stored, but there also are 2 or 3 other large Chest Freezers which have a lot of perishable meats in them as well.


After finishing organizing up the Canned Goods, my next project was making Bags of Spuds from large 50 lb bags donated by local Alaska Farmers and stored down in the Basement, which is very cool and good storage place for root veggies.  I used old shopping bags from stores to make each portion, which was about 5 lbs.  After bagging and tying them up, I brought them upstairs to the main distribution room, and the clients could take one on the way out the door.  Not sure if everyone was eligible though for one of these bags.


Far as the patrons are concerned, it was mostly Old Folks today, though there were some teenagers as well who came along with grandma and carried out her stuff.  Mostly White folks.  When I dropped in there last week to Volunteer, there was a family of four with 2 little girls around 5 and 8 or so, they were Natives.


http://www.omro-wi.com/uploads/4/9/7/0/4970689/8310913_orig.jpg?1372783667Over the 4 hour period we were Open today, I would estimate we served around 16-20 people/families, around 4-5/hour.  There is one person working at the laptop checking off what is given out to each person and they have a certain amount of flexibility in selecting stuff to go in their box, so each person takes 10-15 minutes to serve.  Another Volunteer goes and finds the stuff they ask for if we have it.  With One Trip per Family allowed per month, with 4 days of operation/week, we can probably serve around 350 folks in need of Food Assistance.  There are I think 2 other Food Pantry Charities in the neighborhood, if they are similar in size, then total would be around 1000 Families/month, which I think is plenty for our size community right now, since total population of Palmer is only around 6500 Human Souls.  In order to be Eligible, you have to prove your Residency in Palmer, and have your Social Security Card, proof of Income etc.  I am not sure yet what the income eligibility requirements are, how low your income needs to be.  Over 60 folks do seem to have additional eligibility, not sure how that works yet either.


Given that Palmer is a Farming community with a small population, I think it would be quite easy to ramp up similar Food Distribution to serve more of the population if/when there is Dollar Collapse and failure of JIT shipping.  However, over time the amount of Canned Goods would begin to disappear, and this would have to be compensated for by what can be produced locally.  The variety would drop considerably of course.  However, as long as the transition was made over a couple of years, I don’t see any reason why anybody up here would Starve or need to go Cannibalistic.


Other things I am not yet certain of is how this works in conjunction with the SNAP Card program.  I THINK it is entirely separate, even the Federal Goobermint end, so you can get a Box of Food from us in ADDITION to what you can buy with your SNAP card.  Together, this is DEFINITELY plenty of food to eat each month.  I am pretty sure you also could hit the other Food Charities here once a month, because this is not Networked so nobody at one Charity knows what another Charity has handed out to a given Family.


It would be much harder/impossible to do something similar in Big Shities, because the population is so large and because once JIT distribution fails, these locations do not have local food production to fall back on.  Another good reason to GTFO of Dodge and move to a low population zone with local food production.


It’s really nice to be doing something Local now as well as writing on the net in covering the collapse.  All the folks volunteering were nice Old Ladies, I was the only Male there, although there is supposedly one other guy who volunteers and drives around to make Pickups from the local farms.  We are fortunate that real collapse hasn’t hit up here yet, although definitely there is a significant portion of the population in need of Food Assistance.  Since the SNAP Card program probably will not last in perpetuity, it is important to get these Local Food Charities functioning well to be able to handle larger numbers as time goes by here and more folks fall off the economic cliff.


I will keep a Diary here of my days working at the Pantry.  It’s a very good feeling inside doing this, so I recommend it to every Doomer not himself or herself yet off the cliff.  Even the Bible says this is a good thing to do.



Quote


Matthew 25:35


For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,


Isaiah 58:10


If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.


Proverbs 28:27


Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.


James 2:14-18


What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.



http://www.aquinascollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/Hunger-Knows-No-Season.jpg


On this topic, Panentheists and Christians (real ones) can agree.


RE


Save As Many As You Can

Offline Surly1

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Re: The Food Pantry Chronicles
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2014, 02:38:03 AM »
Really enjoyed reading this article. Glad to see that you are involved in directly feeding the homeless. You're absolutely right that it gives you a very good feeling. But there's nothing surprising there-- it's long been well-known that the surefire cure for depression is to get off one's butt and create a little happiness for somebody else!

This is a particularly good activity for the empathy-challenged.

Well done, RE.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline RE

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Re: The Food Pantry Chronicles
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2014, 03:16:15 AM »
Glad to see that you are involved in directly feeding the homeless.

One IMPORTANT thing to note here is that this type of Food Pantry is NOT feeding the Homeless.

To be Eligible, you have to prove RESIDENCY in Palmer.  If you are HOMELESS, you can't prove residency.

Mainly what this type of Food Charity does is provide some additional Food Security for Elderly people living on Social Security, and folks who are recently Unemployed but still have a Roof over their heads in Palmer.

If you are so far off the cliff you are homeless, we can't "officially" give you any food, although there are obviously back door ways to do this since it is not that carefully audited.

I am not sure where truly Homeless people can go to get food around here.  One thing about being homeless, you don't have much cooking ability other than over a campfire.  You need something more like a Soup Kitchen that serves up Hot Meals for really Homeless people, and I don't think there is one in Palmer, at least functioning most of the time.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas, numerous Churches and other organizations will serve up Dinners for people, but this is only 2 days a year.

The other 354 days a year, the truly Homeless and off the cliff are mainly dumpster diving I suspect.  There are not too many in this category though in Palmer.  In Anchorage, a substantial number though relative to population size.

RE
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Offline Surly1

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Re: The Food Pantry Chronicles
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2014, 04:01:57 AM »
Glad to see that you are involved in directly feeding the homeless.

One IMPORTANT thing to note here is that this type of Food Pantry is NOT feeding the Homeless.

To be Eligible, you have to prove RESIDENCY in Palmer.  If you are HOMELESS, you can't prove residency.

Mainly what this type of Food Charity does is provide some additional Food Security for Elderly people living on Social Security, and folks who are recently Unemployed but still have a Roof over their heads in Palmer.

If you are so far off the cliff you are homeless, we can't "officially" give you any food, although there are obviously back door ways to do this since it is not that carefully audited.

I am not sure where truly Homeless people can go to get food around here.  One thing about being homeless, you don't have much cooking ability other than over a campfire.  You need something more like a Soup Kitchen that serves up Hot Meals for really Homeless people, and I don't think there is one in Palmer, at least functioning most of the time.  On Thanksgiving and Christmas, numerous Churches and other organizations will serve up Dinners for people, but this is only 2 days a year.

The other 354 days a year, the truly Homeless and off the cliff are mainly dumpster diving I suspect.  There are not too many in this category though in Palmer.  In Anchorage, a substantial number though relative to population size.

RE

Eh.  I guess I projected a bit.  Of course, it can't be easy to be homeless in Alaska and make it through an Alaska winter.    With so many homeless in Eastern Virginia sleeping outside, I have to wonder how that works in Alaska.

There are several food pantries in this area. One, the Foodbank of Southeast Virginia, is one that I have volunteered to work at a couple of times. It gets a lot of corporate donations and has a facility the size of a warehouse, including a walk-in freezer the size of the small gymnasium.  They run small armies of volunteers in and out of that place to do many of the same things you describe, including organizing, stacking, and storing canned goods and other foods.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Eddie

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Re: The Food Pantry Chronicles
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2014, 05:34:23 AM »
The Austin Area Food Bank actually gives double to those willing to take fresh produce from local sustainable farms. Found that out when I was taking the PDC course last fall.

My guess is that you couldn't possibly make a better local connection than what you're doing.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

 

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