LLS 100 – pd 03/04
Food Bank Reflection
I have volunteered before for the food bank of NYC and it was a memorable experience. My first volunteering experience was in a church facility feeding the elderly and playing dominos or bingo with them as well. I remember seeing many elderly people communicating amongst each other sharing jokes and laughs. Till this day I still remember that experience because I knew I was giving back to the forgotten community, I felt complete by knowing that a simple gesture made someone else happy.
Our homework assignment was to call a food bank location to arrange a time in which we could go and observe but I felt like actually volunteering and working gave the assignment a definition. The only time I had available will a food bank was operating was Wednesday mornings and it happens to be a nearby location. I use to attend school in Spanish Harlem and I would take a bus running down the west side to the east side and I remember always seeing a line of people waiting to enter a building. This time around I was going to be the one serving those people and reassuring them they will enjoy a hot meal. My volunteering time was from 9:30am to 1:30pm it seems like in 4 hours there is little to do. When I arrived the food was already prepared. That morning we were serving toasted bagel with cream cheese or butter , raisin cereal with milk, apple juice and coffee. Most of the people I served were frequent people that attend the food bank on a daily basis because they were able to identify me as a new volunteer. They were friendly people I felt welcomed as they greet me.
Breakfast ended around 10:30am and while people ate there was several workshops going on which means that the food bank not only feeds them but they also informed them of situations. I saw many people using that time to socialize. After breakfast ended there were many dirty trays and someone had to clean them. At first I began to clean the dishes the old fashion way by scrubbing them individually to get rid of the syrup but another frequent volunteer told me it would take forever to clean those trays therefore he suggested to use the washing machine. This machine was quite different and intimidating it was twice my height with many handles to pull and buttons I didn’t know how to use it and after the second set the water began to rise up and spill everywhere. Instead of speeding up the process of washing the trays it created a second task in mopping away the water preventing an accident.
We started preparing the food cutting the chicken and seasoning the rice with beans as well as the peas we were going to serve. The amount of food that was being prepared was for around 500 people. This facility alone was going to feed 500 people, being practically being from neighborhood I was shocked to know there are many people who are going through tough times and being provided a meal helps them out. Since we were going to provided them with a hot meal we also had to provide them with utensils. I had to do 500+ combinations of fork and napkins. After a lot of napkin and forks I thought it would never end my fingers ached and I was glad that I was used to doing this type of work since I do the same at my job. Along with the meal we also prepare a little dessert for them with was a bowl of pineapples around 20 big cans of pineapples were thrown in a container and we were suppose to serve a cup of pineapples per bowl and serve them in a tray. I counted around 400 or so bowl and it was not enough for everyone.
After preparing, packaging was the next task. The food was hot and the pace of the packaging was quick if you missed a tray you would slow down the whole line and mess up the arrangement. I was exhausted after standing up for so long and repeating the same task for quite a while. My compensation was seeing people thanking for their meal and knowing that I contributed to helping someone else.
Something in particular that jumped at me was the fact that they do not require a certain income or a have a particular in order to enjoy a hot meal. As an example the man I charge told me that if the mayor were to come he would receive the same food everyone else had. This experience reassured me that there is many people who are struggling and who need something as simple as a meal. Individuals tend to take things for granted while others hope to have the same privilege. Food should not be denied to anyone and we should be more aware of what others need as well.