Yesterday we made our inaugural shopping trip to the Capital Area Food Bank and I can’t wait to go back. Who knew food shopping could be this much fun?
We began the application process to become a food bank partner some months back and yesterday’s trip was confirmation of just what a good idea that was. We stocked up on food and paper goods for the house at substantial savings. We were able to get a variety of meat that we can’t normally afford and the big heads of fresh greens just made us smile. The partnership with the food bank is allowing us to start a small food pantry for former residents who are struggling to eat well, and we shopped with them in mind as well. We felt like kids who had scored special treats when we found jars of Skippy peanut butter and boxes of tasty soups.
These benefits alone would make partnering with the food bank worthwhile, but there was something about the shopping experience itself that made it even better. The space is bright and clean and easy to navigate. Not luxurious or fancy, but very pleasant. From the minute we walked in, the staff members were welcoming and helpful, the process smooth and efficient. They accommodate lots of agencies and faith communities every day, and in all the interactions we had and in those I witnessed there was a friendly, service-oriented spirit. I shouldn’t have been surprised since our interactions with the staff during the application process and the subsequent trainings have all been in that same spirit, but still it was refreshing.
At Joseph’s House, we work hard to create a genuine sense of welcome for all who enter, and it was a pleasure to be on the other side of such a gracious welcome. It was also heartening to see the other groups shopping and picking up their orders. So many good folks doing day-to-day service to help people put food on their tables. Some days I get lost in my small world and I forget about all those out there in our city doing good work to feed, clothe, care for, and support those around us who are hurting. Solidarity feels nice.
Our partnership with the food bank puts us in solidarity with 500+ other local agencies. It’s an important step that will reduce our food costs and allow us to serve our friends in new ways. It also gives us the opportunity to be on the receiving end of the generosity of thousands of local residents, businesses, and faith communities who hold food drives, make donations, and volunteer at the food bank. Their spirit, too, infuses the shopping floor and that, I realized, is what makes shopping there such a joyful experience.