Each month our church brings in a “Feeding America” semi-truck loaded down with surplus food, and we distribute it to whoever needs it. People living around the church begin lining up along the shade of the trees on the south end of the parking lot an hour, sometimes two hours before the truck arrives. We set up long tables in two rows outside, ready to have food piled on them. Then we wait for the semi to arrive.
Last Wednesday I had the privilege of being one of the volunteers for the food truck. About 5:15, a cheer went up as the semi slowly pulled into the parking lot, maneuvering between the two rows of tables. The side panels of the truck were whipped open, and we began to unload the food. Some things merely had to be set on the tables, other things had to be put into plastic bags. We never know ahead of time what will be in the truck. It’s like a grab bag. This month’s offerings turned out to be: potatoes, cabbage heads, carrots, sweet peppers, yogurt, canned milk, onions, tomatoes, and apples. Ah, a nice healthy mix, I thought.
The people began to file past the tables, and we filled bags, boxes, and wagons with food for them. Each guest was invited to stop inside the church for some cake and punch, as we were celebrating the tenth anniversary of the food truck. Every bit of food was given away, with the exception of a few bad potatoes. Our jovial, friendly truck driver closed up the side panels and drove off with a smile. See you back next month!
Having recently read the book “Toxic Charity”, I wondered if I would view our food truck differently than I had in the past. As we distributed the food, I observed that just about everyone was dressed simply – mostly in t-shirts and jeans. They arrived in older used cars. They looked pretty much like us, simple working folks. The sort of folks that are just squeezing by financially, but they make too much money to qualify for food stamps. The need for a little extra food for their families seemed quite genuine, and each of them was appreciative of the fruit and vegetables.
If you have the chance to participate in a local food pantry or food truck, I would encourage you to do so. Don’t worry about whether or not the people coming through the line are in true need, or are taking advantage of it. Just smile and share what you’ve been given. Blessings given out have a way of coming back to you.