A Volunteer’s Perspective on Thursday and Saturday Food Distribution

 

Waiting in line for food
People waiting to choose from the donated food on a Saturday giveaway
Thursdays and Saturdays are exciting at The Salt Mine!! Our mission is to feed the hungry throughout the week by distributing food through the Food Closet, but Thursday and Saturday’s food giveaways are special. They are special in this sense—that volunteer teams from many local organizations partner with us to provide food for the sixty to one hundred families in need.

A look at the various kinds of food handed out Thursdays and Saturdays

Thursday and Saturday food giveaways are very diverse. While quantities and assortment do vary, most giveaways contain breads, canned goods, cereals, dairy, desserts, drinks, eggs, fruit, vegetables and various meats. These items come from several sources. On Thursdays, the Placer County Food Bank truck delivers food supplied through grants, local farmers, and local giving. Saturday’s food truck is manned by volunteers from Bayside Church who pick up food from local Walmarts. On Saturdays, Safeway donates the bulk of the bread, some dairy, and desserts. Raleys is one of our largest donors, supplying both days with perishable and non perishable goods. Thus, not only are the hungry provided with ingredients for balanced meals, but businesses who are usually competitors come together to meet this need in our community.

As important as our donors are, the food can go nowhere without our volunteers. Every facet of our Saturday giveaway is run by volunteer manpower. The gentleman driving the Food truck and receiving donations from Walmart is a volunteer. The local ladies and gentlemen who pick up donated bread, dairy, and desserts from Raleys volunteer. Men and women who set up tables, food, hand out numbers, direct pedestrian traffic, assist with carry-outs, and clean up—are all volunteers.

Successfully distributing food Thursdays and Saturdays requires a large team. We are indebted to the local clubs, churches, corporate service groups—even families—that volunteer from week to week because they want to serve their community. I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris Avery, the Financial Secretary for Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church’s Council of the Knights of Columbus, to discover his groups’ perspective on, and motivation for, serving at The Salt Mine.

The Knights of Columbus’ original mission was helping widows and orphans in their communities. However, the group broadened their service goals to include all the needy in their parishes and communities. Lincoln’s council is comprised of over two hundred men who volunteer our community in various capacities.

The Bread Basket. Raley's and Safeway donated these items
The Bread Basket. Raley’s and Safeway donated these items

I asked Mr. Avery, why, out of all the ways he could serve Lincoln, he and his fellow knights choose to repeatedly volunteer at The Salt Mine Saturday food distribution.

“Because,” he answered, “it’s person to person. Frequently, many community service institutions help by issuing checks, issuing money. This is an opportunity for us to help one on one. It is a chance to look the person in the eye who you are helping and to give them encouragement and support. I really like that.”

Mr. Avery and his fellow knights have volunteered at the Saturday giveaway for almost six months. I was curious about any preconceptions he carried coming into serving and how those preconceptions changed over the past six months.

“Actually, I thought that The Salt Mine served mostly homeless people,” he told me. “As it turns out, I have found out that really is not the case—the homeless are a small portion of the members that The Salt Mine serve. Most of the people they are helping are people that do have homes, but are down on their luck. They may have illness in their family, they may be unemployed, or they may be a single parent running a household. These are people who are in need; sometimes they have a certain amount of money—it’s just not enough money. That was a surprise; the homeless are just a small part of those in need—and not as large of a percent as you would expect.”

Finally, I asked Mr. Avery for any last observations or remarks. “I think people are becoming more aware of one on one help instead of just writing a check. We get bombarded with requests to write checks, but every now and then, we have an opportunity to actually get up, go out, and meet the recipients face to face. It’s much, much, more rewarding than writing a check and having it go off to some organization back East, and you do not know where it is helping.”

 

If you desire to take up this call to serve the community face to face, get in touch with us. Use the volunteer button to contact our volunteer coordinator, or simply drop by The Salt Mine and ask for Stephen Hay. If you want to leave feedback on this article feel free to leave comments below or stop by The Salt Mine. Face to face feedback is as rewarding as administering face to face assistance.

Placer Food Bank picked up the majority of these items from Walmart.
Placer Food Bank picked up the majority of these items from Walmart.

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