How much do you grocery shop? Do you pick up what you need with nothing extra? Do you cut coupons to maximize your dollars? Do you shop with no worries about how much your food costs? That's a question we ask ourselves as we go to our local food bank to "stock" our food pantry.
Food prices in the US are rising. Food Stamp benefits are decreasing. Our local food bank now services two counties with hundreds on non-profits organizations and churches battling for the perfect time slot. Its a crap shoot. Sometimes we are able to get a time when they have just stocked their shelves. Sometimes, we get a time when they barely have a can of food on the shelf.
Our food costs may seem minimal compared to how you shop. We pay a mere .18 cents per pound for often expired canned goods, juices and cereals. According to the USDA, expired foods can be distributed for up to twelve months depending on the type of food it is. We can average about 1,000 ro 1,200 pounds of food per shopping trip - which is all that fits in our van. Two days later - our pantry is empty. 1,000 pounds of food doesn't last like it used to.
In 2013 - Francis House distrubuted over $33,000 worth of food and hygiene items. It is a great accomplishment and we are proud to be able to provide this service to our community. Especially as budgets are reduced and costs are increased.
We can't do it without your help. Without your continued support. We thank you. We applaud you. We need you.
In just over a month we will start our Holiday preparations. Halloween will be over, Thanksgiving planning will begin and while that's happening, Christmas carols will already be playing in the mall, on the car radio and in our supermarkets.
The carols will be playing in the three places our clients usually don't have the opportunity to listen to them. They don't shop at the mall, but at dollar and thrift stores. They use public transportation to get to these places. Their supermarket is the Francis House Food Pantry and we are not equiped with an overhead musak system.
The holidays are are a joyous time to celebrate and be thankful for what we have and who we love. Our clients....they celebrate too. They celebrate another year of living with the HIV virus. They celebrate that they have fought off death for another year. They celebrate that they too are thankful for what they have and who they love. They celebrate. Everyday.
Most of us don't think twice about buying our turkey and all the accoutrements that go with our meal. Our food pantry is limited and while we always have canned pumpking and cranberry sauce from those that bought too much the year before, the meal would be lacking with just those two items.
Over the last few years your generosity has helped Francis House provide the other stuff for those meals. Yes, the other stuff. The main stuff. Turkey, gravy, fresh vegetables and more. We could not have done it without you. I promise you, the happiness in the smiles as our clients acccess a full pantry is something that stays with me. Pure joy is noticable....and contagious.
We thank you for your donations and look forward to a feast fit for those who have something to celebrate.
Many clients come to Francis House for different servcies. Some come for the support groups, some for socialization, some for the meals we cook - but most every client that participates uses the food pantry.
The food pantry, for some, was the initial draw to Francis House. Once inside receiving their emergency food box - they learned how to access the pantry weekly, even daily and started to participate in services. That was the case for one such client! He was referred for for a food box from another agency and became a participating client. After a few months, he began to help out around the building. He would take out the trash, mop the floors, help clean the kitchen after lunch. He asked if he could help cook the meals. We learned about his past experiences as a dessert chef and a line cook. He began coming in 5 days a week and is now a full time volunteer cook for our facility.
His drug use diminished and he reports no use in over 6 months. He states that he feels like he has purpose again. He makes amazing food to assist us in providing over 6,000 meals each year.
All... because of our food pantry.