Well, we packed our last backpacks for the year yesterday and they will go home with children today. All tolled, that’s 285 backpacks and 45 Market Basket Gift cards distributed to PHA Early Childhood families between February and the end of the school year. Seems like a lot, but I know it’s barely making a dent.
As I prepared for the last packing, I first unpacked food items from their their bulk cartons and laid them out for easy access. Looking at the food before it gets repackaged, it too looks like a lot, but I know that in each individual backpack, there’s not that much – just enough for two breakfasts and two lunches for one child. The experience reminded me of my typical Saturday afternoon which involves unpacking the weekly family grocery shopping bags onto my kitchen counter. The amount of food looks like a lot. Yet usually by Thursday, we’ve drunk more milk than anticipated, or run out of bread or eggs or some other “essential” item. For me, it’s an easy problem to solve, yet I forget regularly how fortunate I am to have the means as well as the easy access to a food market.
As we reach the end of another school year, let’s celebrate the tremendous progress we’ve made in addressing the hunger issue at PHA. I, for one, commit to make an even bigger dent in the hunger issue next year.
Happy Summer, Everyone!
Ah, blogging. Feels so good when I do it, but so easy to fall out of the habit. And as we near the end of the school year, I am reminded that it is time to write.
Today, Friday June 12, marks the 3rd Friday in a row that Maureen has had to do both the packing AND the distribution of the backpacks. Yes, I’ve been delinquent in my duties. And yes, we should all be tremendously grateful to Maureen for adding the packaging to her already overloaded schedule. One thing I’ve learned is that for things as operational as weekly food acquisition and redistribution, habits, routines and backup plans are essential. And I commit to devoting time this summer to strengthening our operations. Maureen should not have to be my “packup backup” plan.
And what an inspiring conversation I had a week ago with Vicky I from Somerville’s Community Cooks!! Community Cooks http://communitycooks.org/, for those unfamiliar is a very cool local organization that mobilizes volunteers to prepare home-cooked food for vulnerable populations seeking assistance. Vicky is connected with all the different emergency food efforts springing up in the area, and is now planning a time for us to come together, share ideas, support one another, and use the power of our numbers to have a greater impact. Next month representatives from Somerville School District as well as Thrive, Cambridge’s School Backpack program, Arlington’s Food Pantry, Food for Free, and Community Cooks will come together for the first time, and we will see where we go from there. At the same time, Vicky and I will be exploring a partnership between Thrive and Community Cooks to deliver monthly hot suppers to the PHA community starting in the fall.
As summer approaches, stay tuned, stay cool, and build community through food!