Food as Perspective

So it’s another Thursday night of preparing packets of weekend food to go home with PHA children tomorrow.  Mostly it is busy work, pulling items from boxes and bags to put into other boxes and bags. Making sure that each packet has the right collection of healthy breakfast, lunch and snack items.  Bagging, wrapping, packing, loading them into the car.  You’d think it might be tedious work, work in which I would not find peace and joy.  But the opposite is true.   Here’s the deal – I currently work in an organization that is undergoing dramatic and disruptive change.  My day is filled with angst, confusion, frustration both mine and others’, and mostly around work that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, or having any real impact.  My work with THRIVE is work that matters, that hopefully is making a difference in the lives of children and families in my community. It’s work for which people regularly express appreciation.   It’s work that connects me with other’s in a rich and rewarding way. It’s work that opens doors to the school environment where my daughter spends her days.  And it’s work that puts other challenges, including those of my current day job, into perspective.

I like doing what matters.  THRIVE is helping me to thrive as well.

“And We’re Off…

…like a herd of turtles down a cobblestone street.”  This was a refrain of my father’s whenever our large and somewhat chaotic family was finally getting out the door.  And it seems apt as a tribute both to my father and to all the wonderful people and efforts that have worked together to send our first 20 weekend food backpacks home last Friday.  In the midst of endless snow storms and resulting injuries, school cancellations, work cancellations, transportation challenges, supermarket lines, and other significantly challenging life events, we still got it done.


One of the things I like about this crazy weather pattern is that it can bring out a stronger sense of community, a sense that “we’re in this together”.  When I showed up at Food for Free this past week, two days later than my normal schedule due to the storms and my inability to get my car out, I was welcomed by Aida, Julio and Santana.  I had to leave my car with flashers flashing a bit farther out into the street than usual.  I had brought my friend Joanne along in case I needed help getting my car unstuck.  The folks at FFF, while always helpful, went the extra mile.  They insisted on carrying the cases of produce out and loading them into my car for me. And they insisted I take an extra case of produce which actually came in quite handy for the backpacks. Then, when I got back over to PHA, the facilities worker whose name I still don’t know, insisted on opening doors and carrying in the cases of fruit for me.  These helpful gestures made my day, and made me appreciate how much we are “in this together”!

This coming Friday kicks off school vacation week.  Let’s hope that we can make it through the snow to Market Basket, then through the snow-induced-panic lines.  And let’s hope that this Friday we can send home weekend backpacks of breakfast and lunch items accompanied by Market Basket gift cards to help the families get through the week.  Given what we’ve been able to achieve so far I think the odds are good.

Neither rain, nor snow, nor…

…”Snowmageddon” will deter us from launching our food backpack program this week.

Last week included lots of online price comparisons which resulted in my ordering a variety of shelf-safe food items from Amazon.  They’re not kidding – you really can find anything on Amazon!  And there’s something wonderful about having it all just show up on your doorstep.  Then this weekend my good friend and Thrive supporter, Oliver, took me on a tour of Costco.  He has a membership, I do not.  I thought it might be helpful to check out the product and prices.  So Sunday morning, leading up to the Super Bowl and the next in our series of intense storms, we trekked to Costco in Everett where we were able to enjoy the company of nearly everyone in the surrounding communities.  It was a madhouse! But who better to share the experience with than Oliver?


Now my downstairs den looks a bit like a shelf-safe food pantry.  I can hear Nurse Maureen saying, “I thought we had agreed to have the food delivered and stored at the school?”  What can I say except that the best laid plans sometimes need to be adjusted.  Given the number of snow days recently as well as the navigational challenges, somehow it just seemed easier to do it out of my house this week.

Today would normally be the day I pick up the weekly produce from Food For Free.  When I checked in with them, they explained that even they would be working a “limited schedule” today.  I can’t imagine the challenge of navigating vans through all this snow to all the various locations where they pick up food that would otherwise go to waste.  It’s crazy out there!!  So I will collect produce from Christian and Julio tomorrow instead.

  • Shelf-safe food – check
  • Ziplock bags – check
  • Bins for carrying prepared food bags – check
  • Completed forms from families – check
  • Plans for initial distribution process by Nurse Maureen – check
  • Produce pickup –  tomorrow
  • Confirm final count  – TBD
  • Food bags packed and ready to go – Thursday evening
  • Food bags delivered to Nurse Maureen – Friday morning
  • Food distributed to kids – Friday lunchtime

Countdown to kick-off!!