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Sunday, November 20, 2005

At the Food Bank

On Friday I took the day off so I could go shopping with the folks who obtain the food for our Feeding-the-Homeless gig at the Alameda County Community Food Bank. It was a eye-opener.

We serve 120+ dinners and 100+ sack lunches once a month (third Saturday). We need to work within the parameters of what's available the Friday before, as we have no storage to speak of. This requires creativity on the part of whoever is determining what the meal will be.

The Community Food Bank does a lot of business with organizations such as ours that are feeding hungry people. We sign up (and pay) for membership, appoint "shoppers", and they make an appointment and bring a big vehicle.

The food bank had quite a mix of stuff. We did very, very well because we found the meat (Butterball turkeys, frozen in packs of six, about 55 lb per crate, for some ridiculous price like $5.99 - works out to be about a buck a turkey), the dessert (Sara Lee apple pies), cranberry juice, and a lot of stuff for the sack lunches - bread, drink packs, snacky items. I am not sure I would get bread again because some of it started going moldy but that's another story. I have to wonder if this is because this is the time of year that folks think about the Food Bank. We did note some lovely person dropping off four turkeys.

(I noted that "Lo-Carb" mixes and items seemed to be prominent on the shelves.)

Most of the rest of the items get purchased at Costco. We were there before the doors opened to the "executive" customers at 10 am and the place was still jam-packed and kinda crazeeeeeeeeee. It reminded me of why I let my Costco membership lapse, well, that and the quantities of most of the food items are well beyond what I can reasonably expect to use in my household. (I did snag an eight-pack of Genova tuna, which is my preferred low-cost Italian oil-pack brand.)

But it's God's gift to folks who are doing quantity cooking, to be sure. We picked up salad greens, the lunch meats, milk and butter, tangerines for their "take away" item, necessary paper goods, and something to make "a la king" sauce with.

The Expedition that was used for the vehicle was stuffed.

We were $200 under budget because the meat and many of the lunchbox items were so cheap. That will probably get used for the Christmas blow-out but it's nice to have the flexibility.

The agency I work for recently hooked up with one of our regional food banks...this as the state and federal governments have cut their budgets for senior meal programs, so it's been a very helpful partnership.

We were able to put together gift bags filled with granola bars and other nutritious snacks for our meals-on-wheels clients...some of the local schoolkids decorated the bags for us, too.

My boss noted the low-carb merchandise at our food bank too. An era passes...;-)
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