It was Friday before April break. I was rushing to drop my daughter off at school and make it to an 8:30 meeting. I had no time for socializing.
Filomena, a wonderful woman regularly at the school to drop off or pick up her grand niece, opened her arms and embraced me in a hug and a “Thank you”. When I returned her hug with a somewhat puzzled look, she informed me that Byron, the school maintenance man and all around great helper, told her I was responsible for putting together the weekend food backpacks. She wanted to thank me for doing this for the children in our community. While I certainly appreciated her hug of thanks, I replied that without Byron magically taking care of whatever I leave on the back stoop, the food would never get to Nurse Maureen’s office. And without Nurse Maureen, the food would never get out to to the intended kids’ backpacks. And without other PHA staff, parents, friends and community members supporting what it is we do, none of it would be possible. And what I really wanted to express is my gratitude for being so welcomed into this community, and allowed the opportunity to take on a role that was meant for me.
Filomena went on to comment on the waste of uneaten food she sees so often while others are going hungry. And isn’t this the real problem? We live in a world in which some of us have more than we need while others need more than they have, and figuring out how to better balance this out is the challenge. And wasn’t this an interesting conversation to have? Except I had to get to my 8:30 meeting, which I did, almost. (What’s 5 minutes late when I was having such an important conversation?)
Fast forward to Saturday, when I attended the Empty Bowls event raising funds for Food for Free. They are an organization whose sole (or maybe “soul”) mission is to facilitate the exchange between those with more than they need and those who need more than they have. And while there’s still both more waste and more need than there should be, I feel tremendous gratitude for the folks at Food for Free who are working every single day to decrease both.