This morning Musty and I got up early and went to our local food bank to volunteer. We hadn't ever done it before, and it was a really fun experience. There was a big group of people and the coordinators were extremely organized. Basically, we loaded up bags with food donated from suppliers, tied them shut, and stacked them into giant crates (60 bags/crate). In all, we filled about 1500 bags in 2 hours! Many hands make light work.
Our local food bank is a really great organization, and each year on Thanksgiving I teach a big yoga class to collect money for them. This last time we raised over $800!! But I hadn't ever done such "hands on" volunteering and really enjoyed it. The experience also brought a lot of thoughts to mind.
One of the things I was interested in was seeing what sort of food would be in the bags. It was a mix of healthy and so-so: 2 bags of split peas, 2 bags of white rice, a soymilk-sized box of dairy milk, a can of beef stew, a can of sweet potatoes in syrup, a can of cranberry cocktail concentrate... and some other things I was too busy to take note of. It made me think about how priveledged I am to choose so precisely what type of food I like to eat (vegan, organic, local, seasonal, whole grain, etc)... Obviously I can be flexible, but a lot of times I find that I would rather be hungry than eat something I won't feel good about later (physically or spirtually). But this is because I know I won't be hungry for long. It was very touching to learn about how many people (43,000) our food bank serves - and what percent of them are children (45%). : ( There was also a statistic about how many parents skip meals so that their kids can eat.
It was really a nice feeling to help out, and we've signed up to do it again.
Another thing that made it so fun was all the nice people there volunteering with us. On the "assembly line" with us was a big, friendly group of people from the Santa Cruz Kiwanis club. It's similar to Rotary I think - a group of people doing fundraisers and such, 100% of the proceeds go to scholarships and presents for needy kids at Christmas... stuff like that. They were super nice people, mostly older, and Musty and I both really enjoyed meeting some people of a different generation and perspective. Their upcoming event is a big "crab and pasta feed" - and they eagerly wanted to sell us tickets. I was a bit sorry to tell them that I was veg and Musty is allergic to crab.
We were thinking it might be neat to check out the Kiwanis club... such nice causes they work for. But then, do I really want to help organize a giant crab and meat-sauce feed? Hm. Maybe I could just bow out on that one. I said to Musty, "Who goes to a giant crab feed??!!" and he said "what do you mean? Everyone goes." Sigh... I think I was living in VeganWorld for a moment there.
Part of me thinks, "oh it would be neat to form a group of veg*ns and make our own fundraising bake sales and vegan-feeds and vegan pancake breakfasts to raise money for scholarships and needy children!" But, another part of me thinks that it's really refreshing and interesting and important to meet differently-minded and oriented people, instead of always just hanging out with like-minded people. Hmmm.
Tomorrow I'll blog about our (non-crab) dinner, which was great!