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Old 05-21-2016, 10:46 PM   #1
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Church food pantry program, concerns

Our church has a food pantry program with distribution once a month. I volunteered to help out with it the last couple months. I noticed some problems right away. The lady who runs it ("Linda") buys the meat items a few days before, freezes them in her deep freezer, and then brings them to the church at 10AM along with the other food. Then they spend an hour sorting the food into 20 different boxes.

Distribution starts at 11AM and ends at 3PM, so this meat is sitting around thawing at room temperature for hours. It gets partially thawed like clumps of frozen parts in mostly thawed meat. Not good for meat. Especially because the meat items are always 2 packages of ground beef and a package of chicken. It's always the same meat items (well at least the past 2 months).

Also the food selection is kinda bizarre. It's always a thing of marinara sauce (Prego), no pasta (?), 4 cans of green beans, the thawing out meat items, and then a bunch of junk (soda, potato chips, candy bars (fun size)), 2 cans of soup, 2 liter of tea, maybe a small sack of peanuts.

One of the volunteers there is a retired podiatry physician. I mentioned to him in a friendly manner about the food safety concern. He said nothing. I asked again and in 75 year old grouchy man voice, he said he wasn't asking "Linda" (the director of the program) about it because she'd bite his head off.

Lol, so because she has a fierce personality, no one will speak up about it? I told my wife I'd talk to Linda, so I was going to have a friendly chat but that went south quickly. She let me get out like 5 words before telling me that I am ridiculous and "we haven't killed anyone yet!"

Um, ok. So I talked to the minister about it. He was very concerned about it from a liability standpoint and removed her from being in charge of it. He appointed someone else. Now it's logical. We buy the meat items the morning of distribution, and they immediately get taken to the church and put in the 2 large fridges we have in there. And when the recipient fetches their box, we grab a sack of meat items out of the fridge (bagged up) and put it on top of the dry food in the box. And no more junk food either. It's more substantial food and higher quantities of real food. We have 2 brand new commercial fridges sitting there always on -- it was silly to not utilize them. I think the biggest use they get is when someone rents out the hall for a graduation party or something. Or to store the cream for coffee service.

It's just sad that something positive like helping out the needy would become subjected to someone's bad choices/stubborness. And I am often "that guy" who speaks up. Believe me, I don't want to have to. Why didn't someone else speak up about this over the years? I am not afraid to confront idiots and morons.

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Old 05-21-2016, 11:08 PM   #2
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I think you did the right thing. It's great to help people in need but not at the risk of poisoning them.

You should be proud that your actions improved the overall quality of the food your church provides.
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Old 05-21-2016, 11:13 PM   #3
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Thanks Andy for the kind words. Not enough people speak up against stupid situations. It costs nothing extra to simply change the way the program is run -- to ensure food safety.

Also, sheesh, the junk they were putting into those boxes was nuts. Soda pop, chips, candy, cookies. I am sure her rationale was "poor people deserve treats too!" Um, yeah, but I am sure they are already getting enough of that crap already. :)
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Old 05-21-2016, 11:23 PM   #4
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Church food pantry program, concerns

Good for you for speaking out and not allowing poisoning of people.
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Old 05-22-2016, 01:48 AM   #5
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Kudos to you for speaking up for those who don't have a voice. Every month I donate $10 out of my food stamps for food for our local food bank. I buy peanut butter, Marshmallow Fluff or jelly of some kind, a few boxes of pasta, cereal and any other food I see on sale that will fill out my $10. My main concern is that there is something that can be used for more than one meal and that there is something all kids love to eat.

Our food bank distributes every Saturday morning for two hours. Ten to noon. The church has a huge fridge and very large freezer. They joined the Boston Food Bank and receive cases of canned goods food from them every month. They are also given a substantial amount of cash each month to buy at a discount fresh milk, eggs and other foods that require a fridge.

Every Friday afternoon Marilyn (the woman who started the food bank) goes to one of our local supermarkets and gets the perishables. At holidays, Boston Food Bank gives our food bank about fifty or more frozen turkeys. They fit very nicely in the freezer until distribution day. The church also donates not only the space and the free labor of church members, but monies from their collection each Sunday. One of the benefits of having the food bank at the church, is that a lot of the recipients, once they no longer need the donations of the church, donate food or money themselves to the church. And some of them have even become members of the church.

The church also has a clothing closet. They have a collection of children's jackets for winter wear. At the start of the winter each year their collection of jackets goes fast. And they also have winter coats for the adults. They too are quick to come off the hanger. Then come springtime and the closet fills up fast for next winter and the next group of children and adults in need. I was there one day when a man came in. He had just got a job collecting trash and needed a winter coat. When they found a nice warm one for him, he started to cry. He had been unemployed for quite a while and didn't want to pass up this chance of any job that might come his way.

My church has it right. They do reach out to the community in so many ways that make a difference.
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Old 05-22-2016, 09:47 AM   #6
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Cheers to JD

First of all, thank you for taking a role in your community and helping with a food bank.

Ive been a helper for our local, but I have also, more important, been a beneficiary of a community food bank. I can say categorically, that education about cooking is very very useful. People that resource to it though, most times, are really tight, they are on their last legs, they can't cook because, mainly they don't have a stove or a pot.

As you said in your post, donations are bizarre. And yeah, a useful donation isn't turned down, right? Ends up with pasta but no sauce. Oh, and I hope you know business offloads their bad stock as a 'donation'

The folks that work in community food banks are angels. I just wish their job was easier.
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Old 05-22-2016, 07:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erehweslefox View Post
First of all, thank you for taking a role in your community and helping with a food bank.

Ive been a helper for our local, but I have also, more important, been a beneficiary of a community food bank. I can say categorically, that education about cooking is very very useful. People that resource to it though, most times, are really tight, they are on their last legs, they can't cook because, mainly they don't have a stove or a pot.

As you said in your post, donations are bizarre. And yeah, a useful donation isn't turned down, right? Ends up with pasta but no sauce. Oh, and I hope you know business offloads their bad stock as a 'donation'

The folks that work in community food banks are angels. I just wish their job was easier.
The supermarket that gives the donations in my town, is located one town over. The head of the company is very community minded and donates a lot of money to charity, including food banks. Cooking Goddess is familiar with the supermarket, as she has one in her community. Marilyn is taken into the back fridge and is given the supplies right from their own stash. Grant you the milk may have an expiration date for two or three days later, but it is still good to go. And the families will be receiving it the next day. The families here receive not only can goods, but butter, milk, eggs, fresh produce, etc. And the one item that the church gets is "manager specials' that did not sell. It is probably past one or two days of the 'sell by' date. Still edible and has been kept under refrigeration. Because we have a very large Latino population in this part of Boston, the church tries to meet their dietary preferences. They had out Masa Harina, salsa, etc. Foods they would normally buy if they had the money.

The 'bad stock' you mentioned as a rule is sent to the main big Boston Food Bank and sent our immediately to homeless shelters.
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Old 05-22-2016, 08:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erehweslefox View Post
First of all, thank you for taking a role in your community and helping with a food bank.

Ive been a helper for our local, but I have also, more important, been a beneficiary of a community food bank. I can say categorically, that education about cooking is very very useful. People that resource to it though, most times, are really tight, they are on their last legs, they can't cook because, mainly they don't have a stove or a pot.

As you said in your post, donations are bizarre. And yeah, a useful donation isn't turned down, right? Ends up with pasta but no sauce. Oh, and I hope you know business offloads their bad stock as a 'donation'

The folks that work in community food banks are angels. I just wish their job was easier.
Actually this food bank at our church buys all its own food. They don't get donations of food items. The lady who ran it in the past (who was leaving meat sitting at room temp for hours) was making the decisions to buy pop, chip, candy, cookies, and the other bizarre stuff. :)

We put a stop to that. There is another food band around here that collects food for donations.
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Old 05-23-2016, 05:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jd_1138 View Post
Actually this food bank at our church buys all its own food. They don't get donations of food items. The lady who ran it in the past (who was leaving meat sitting at room temp for hours) was making the decisions to buy pop, chip, candy, cookies, and the other bizarre stuff. :)

We put a stop to that. There is another food band around here that collects food for donations.
Maybe she was buying things they can't get with food stamps/WICA and thought she was doing them a favor buying "treats" for the family. I'm pretty sure in Florida at least you can't get the things bolded, at least you couldn't when DD worked as a teenager at Winn Dixie, which admittedly was around 20 years ago.
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Old 05-23-2016, 11:31 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by medtran49 View Post
Maybe she was buying things they can't get with food stamps/WICA and thought she was doing them a favor buying "treats" for the family. I'm pretty sure in Florida at least you can't get the things bolded, at least you couldn't when DD worked as a teenager at Winn Dixie, which admittedly was around 20 years ago.
You are right to some extent. The Federal Guidelines have always stated that cigarettes, alcohol, pet food, cleaning supplies and other non food items for people only cannot be purchased with Food Stamps. That has always been the rule ever since the program was started. Unfortunately, there are people who violate the rules. They sell their food stamps for fifty cents on the dollar, or make purchases of non approved items at stores that are willing to break Federal and State laws. Since Winn-Dixie is a large commercial, I doubt very much that they would be willing to break any Federal Laws regarding food stamps. If caught, it would affect ALL of their stores in being allowed to accept or participate in the Food Stamp Program for one year. That would be a tremendous financial loss for the company.

When the program was first initiated, the recipient received paper stamps in denominations of one, two, five, ten and twenty dollars. If you had change coming back after making a food purchase, you either received paper chits printed by the store or they would give you back regular change. You could only use those paper chits at the store that issued it. It would be to your advantage to shop only stores that gave back change.

Compared to how the program originally began and then today, you wouldn't recognize it. The application is all done on line and you can print it out and fax it to them. Elderly applicants only fill out one short page.

Every time we get a new resident in the building there seems to be some kind of a committee that lets them know I am one of three people that have a computer and they should ask me to help them receive food stamps. I willing do it for them. Heavens knows, they are now at an age where they should get every thing they are entitled to.
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