For the third year, HSCC helped sort food and other donated items at the Good Shepherd Food Warehouse in Hampden. It was a fun experience with lots of laughter as well as work. Everyone did so well that the work planned for our shift was finished nearly a half-hour early.
In addition to doing something productive, we got an education too. In the past, I used to give what would make one meal for a family. But that isn’t how food is distributed; we separated all the food into banana boxes by category: meat, canned vegetables, canned fruit, cereal, coffee/tea, etc. The banana boxes are then delivered to individual food cupboards, like the one located in our church.
My next lesson was to be careful what you give and how it is packed. It was sad to see how many items had to be thrown away because of missing lids, opened boxes, crushed cans, or leaking bottles. If you are donating, don’t mix non-food items that might leak with food items. Think about giving a multiple pack of one item that will stay together and sustain multiple distribution sorts, instead of a single can or bottle that may get damaged. Don’t contribute sodas, cookies, or candies. These are considered “unhealthy” and will not be used.
It almost goes without saying that anything with an expiration date that has passed should not be passed off to someone else. While many foods in undamaged containers are safe for a while past the expiration date, the multiple distribution stages makes for a lag time from donor to recipient. Food may not be viable by the time it reaches the recipient.
The last lesson of the day was that anyone can help others and have fun doing it.