Auburndale Food Bank, Auburndale, Florida
February 9, 2023
The hungry in America are all around us. We may not see them nor are they usually easy to find. However, open a food pantry and offer quality food items to those suffering from food insecurity and you’ll see them by the hundreds.
Barb and I discovered back in late 2022 that our lives lacked purpose. There was no driving reason to get up in the morning. We were retired. Off the road. Just taking up space. We were literally beginning to rust in place. Perhaps some of you know what I mean. To grow old and rust away is to becoming increasingly inactive. You start sleeping later in the morning. You wander aimlessly through the day. You have no mission that moves and motivates you. We knew we needed to do something. We just didn’t know what that something would be.
My first instinct was to find a museum where I could volunteer. To that end I made several phone calls and one told me very enthusiastically do we ever need new volunteers. I was encouraged to fill out an application and was assured you’ll hear from us by next week. Weeks went by, I made follow up phone calls and here we are five months later and I’ve never heard from them. Oh well.
About the same time Ms. Barbara said, more to herself, do you think we can find a food panty that we could volunteer at? She made several phone calls but only one seemed interested. That one was The Auburndale Food Pantry which we paid a visit to that very day, and here we are four months later serving there two, sometimes three or four days a week.
There are several sections inside where all the work is done. This is known as The Packing Plant. In this room we make up bags of staples for distribution. Depending on what has been donated by the various supermarkets in the area the bag will sometimes contain the following: a bag of rice, a bag of walnuts, a can of beans, a can of fruit, a can of soup and maybe a couple of bags of chips.
The bags then go into boxes – five bags to a box – and they are then taken out to the
distribution room where they will be handed out to our clients. This is the room on a typical day prior to distribution. On average we need to make up 400 to 500 bags or more per week. Our doors are open on Tuesday and Thursday for distribution.
Along with the staples we also distribute
packages of meat. This is The Meat Locker just after we received a donation from several of the local supermarkets. This was a really good day but unfortunately not all days are like this. We then unbox all of this meat and make up bags of 2 to 3 pounds for distribution with the staple bags.
We also distribute
baked goods. This is the Bakery Room. When I took this picture our shelves were a bit bare. As with the staples and the meat so with the bakery we never know week to week what we are going to have.
For instance this past week we received 2,300 pounds of canned fruit from the USDA. We also received 7,526 pounds of staples and meat from the USDA. In the past we received about 3,000 pounds of fish. Another week we received cartons and cartons of eggs. We’re grateful for everything we receive.
Now, as to how much we distribute – this past Thursday we were able to provide for 863 people. Which is about 4,200 pounds of staples and meat and bakery out the door. And, yes, this is a typical day of distribution. Our food pantry is the third largest in Polk County.
So that people is where we are overcoming the rust in our lives. We donate our time to unload trucks, make up bags of staples and meat, move boxes from room to room and do whatever else needs to be done. It is truly a most gratifying way to spend one’s time.
In closing let me end with this, a brief poem that I’ve come to embrace as my goal in life:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
(by Hunter S. Thompson)
God’s best and blessings to you.
3 thoughts on “Feeding The Hungry”
Bill, this is a beautiful post. I am glad you and Barb found this mission and purpose. It makes me think of the Bible quote “Whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” Thank you for making the world a better place.
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I’m so glad to see a new post from you! I’m glad that you and Ms. Barbara have found an activity that feeds both your souls and the bodies of others.
That sounds like a satisfying job for you and definitely a reward for those in need. There are days I start to rust then the next day I kick it off. We can’t allow that rust to win. Thank you for what you and Barbara are doing. God Bless