It's not *all* about the food at The Little Pantry That Could, but in another way, it is. The food is what draws us all together. It's why people come to see us...because they are in need of (mainly) food, but sometimes other things too. Things such as a hug, a handshake, a smile, an honest conversation, a joke, a dance, a little understanding, a few moments of safe respite, a drink of water or coffee, a pastry or a cookie...
But back to the food.
Today if you shopped, you could have selected
Canned green beans
A can of beans (baked, black, pinto, navy, great northern, chili...)
A can of soup or chili
A can of chicken or tuna
A few packets of instant coffee or hot cocoa
A few bottles of water or tea
A box of spanish rice mix or a box of pasta
A can of pasta sauce or a can of fruit
A box of cereal or oatmeal
A couple of loaves of bread--bread was abundant today...lots of styles snd flavors
Snack crackers or snack chips
Half a dozen eggs
A case of greek yogurt (yes, we gave away cases today...how awesome is that!)
A bag of fresh lettuce
A bowl of fresh pico or salsa
And toilet paper...a very popular item!
It was a good day--the best day ever--with a record-breaking number of families being served--more than 100. The shelves are almost bare again...so we start over gleaning and collecting for next Saturday.
Every week, as shopping winds down, I find myself wondering how it stretched so far. Every week I want to do more. I don't really like it when we have to make our shoppers choose just one of some items. I want there to be enough for everyone...every single week.
Every Saturday I read the story of Jesus taking the lunch that was prepared to feed just one little boy and miraculously making it feed thousands (with leftovers) and I pray for that miracle to be repeated in the walls of The Little Pantry. I'm pretty sure it has many times over.
When I first started visiting the Pantry, I would say "Stacy, we are out of canned fruit." And Stacy, in her cheerful, eternal optimism would say "We gave it all away!" It's all in how you choose to look at it.
In November, I will have been going to TLP for a year. Well, with a slight break in the middle when I had a broken knee.
In that time I've noticed that a few things have changed, so I made a list.
20 Ways to Know You've Been Spending Time at The Little Pantry
1. You measure the value of other items by Campbell's Chunky Soup Cans.
If I buy those shoes for $40, that's 20 cans of Campbell's Chunky I can not buy. Maybe I'll buy the $6 shoes...
2. You harangue your friends and neighbors for extra coupons for Campbell's Chunky Soup and stalk the Publix sale papers to see when Campbell's Chunky Soup is included in their weekly Buy One Get One Free promotions. You have spent way too much time doing the math, comparison shopping for the best deal on chunky soups with pull-tab tops.
3. You have bought more than a dozen pairs of tennis shoes in the past year, yet you only actually own one.
4. You don't avert your eyes and adjust the radio when you pull up to a corner where there's a person selling The Contributor. Now you look straight at them, thinking "Is that Moose, or Mark or Vonnie?" and "Do I have some cash?"
5. You plan family holidays around Fridays and Saturdays.
6. You shop the coat rack at Our Thrift Store, hoping to score super warm coats in sizes you don't wear.
7. You wish you drove a bigger SUV so you could more easily carry all the bread and produce and canned goods and stuff from the church to the Pantry. You pray for the day when you have to make more than one trip. You wonder if they make refrigeration units for Jeeps.
8. You are sometimes referred to as the *Peanut Butter Princess*.
9. You haven't had a haircut in 4 months...because well, that's 25 cans of soup.
10. You've heard at least 6 jokes about feeding a pet gorilla, making the world's biggest Banana Pudding and "what in the heck?" from shoppers and clerks at Kroger, when you buy 35 to 45 pounds of bananas at one time.
11. You have missed church on Sunday because you are so exhausted from Friday and Saturday...and you don't feel bad about it.
12. You have ordered peanut butter from Amazon (they auto-ship individual servings of PB and I had a gift card) and you've quaried Jiff to see if they would consider making PB in smaller containers so it's not so much for our homeless people to carry around. (They haven't yet responded.)
13. You know the definition of "food snobery" and you only succumb to the condition occasionally.
14. Random people at church hand you bags of food and pairs of shoes and say "for the pantry"...and you cry.
15. You stop taking your reusable grocery bags to the grocery because the pantry needs the plastic ones.
16. Your nine year old lectured the manager at McDonald's about the Pantry while eating his lunch...and she listened.
17. Your husband no longer says "are you going this week?". He asks "how long are you staying?"
18. You want a set of larger pots and pans for Christmas so cooking for more people is not such a messy challenge.
19. You have collected paper shopping bags from people in two states and used egg cartons from people in three states.
20. You feel things more deeply. You are depressed far less often. You work harder. You love more. You are more appreciative and more generous and more grateful...more open to compassion. Your life is better.