Walking into the little storeroom that holds our food pantry supplies, I hope I’ll see full shelves. It’s not a good thing to have to tell our clients that we’re out of canned or frozen meat or that there’s no juice and the only canned fruit we have today is apricots. And while I am glad to see plenty of pasta, I wish we had more spaghetti sauce. But it will have to do.
I volunteer at one of Indianapolis’ many food pantries once a month for two hours, which allows the place to stay open in the early evening, after people get off work. Some clients may need a ride to the food pantry, and some people who work may still need assistance.
I usually don’t fill the grocery bags; I fill out the forms. We have to keep track of the people because they’re only allowed one visit per month. When I ask about income sources, it turns out that some work part-time and/or at low-paying jobs. Others receive social security or disability or are simply unemployed. Many have children. Often I hear, “I’ve never had to do this before.” As we all know, the recession is making life difficult for a lot of Hoosiers.
No one wants to be in a position to have to go to a food pantry, but I am glad that many Indiana agencies are doing their best to help. I hope that my interaction with these clients is cordial and respectful because I know it was not easy for them to come and ask for food.
Long ago, when I was co-leader of a Girl Scout troop in the Broad Ripple area, the girls would drive me crazy with their complaints about snacks and beverages. They didn’t like this, they didn’t want that, too hot, too cold, too mushy, wrong flavor, not what they got at home. Give me a break! In contrast, when I worked with youngsters at an inner-city community center and handed out snacks or sandwiches, I never heard one word (except for “thank you”). They just took the food and ate it, rapidly and without comment. That is what comes to my mind when I think about hunger in our city.
This post was written by Nancy Conner, the director of grants for the Council. For more on Hunger Action Month, visit the Food for Thought blog.