Spent Saturday morning with my husband down at the Philabundance warehouse in Philadelphia. Philabundance collects non-perishable food items from the public, as well as left-over produce from restaurants in the area. Workers pack them and distribute them to food banks all over the Delaware Valley. The company Bob works for had organized a day of service at Philabundance in conjunction with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and at least 40 employees turned out.
The rock music radio station WMMR had recently sponsored a non-perishable food drive for Philabundance, and the warehouse was filled with huge boxes of canned goods. Philabundance has the sorting operation down to a science with all the necessary equipment, including a huge, elliptical conveyor belt surrounded by weighing/packing stations. At each station volunteers labeled and filled boxes with a particular type of canned goods (green vegetables, canned pasta, non-green vegetables, soups, beans, baby food, etc.). When the box weighed between 30 and 31 lb, we'd remove it from the scale and place it behind us on a wooden pallet. Other volunteers then came around and taped the boxes shut so they were ready to be fork lifted.
Bob and I had the non-green vegetable station. That included items such as canned corn, potatoes, creamed corn, mixed vegetables, corn, sauerkraut, corn, sliced mushrooms, corn, corn, beets, corn, corn, and corn. While at other stations they were packing at a leisurely pace, we could hardly keep up with all the cans of maize sailing our way. We must have filled a box every 6 min.
We sure do grow lots of corn in this country! And I guess people figure that every red-blooded American likes corn, so they sure do donate a lot of it to those in need of food.
What I learned from my experience is that --surprise!-- the poor in this country don't get a very balanced diet. Philabundance has launched a new program, Fresh For All, to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need. Sad that produce is so much more expensive than pretzels, potato chips, and other junk foods. There's going to be a Fresh for All program opening near us, so Bob and I are looking forward to volunteering on a regular basis closer to home.