For many people, a trip to Patchwork’s food pantry begins in our main office. That’s where we’ll make a phone call to check their eligibility (each family can get a food order every 30 days) and issue a referral. While a few families receive their referrals through another organization, on average every month our main office issues referrals for 104 of the 122 households who visit our food pantry.
Some of the people coming to get referrals are quiet. They don’t want to ask for help, but this month things aren’t going to stretch quite far enough. Some extra food will help. If they’re on foot or riding a bike, the food pantry also has some heavy duty bags they can use to keep their food safe during the trip home.
Some apologize and say they’ve never had to ask for food before, but they were laid off or they just moved to town and are trying to get set up. They’ve always known that there were places like Patchwork that are there to help, and now they need it.
Some are regulars. They greet us with a smile of familiarity. They stop in monthly to pick up an order of food. They’re retired or on disability. They have very limited, fixed incomes. Food from us fits into their monthly budget as they patch together the resources they need to get by. Perhaps it frees up a little more money for medicine or their utilities.
Some are among our homeless guests. They hear there is food available that they can take with them and all they have to do is get an official referral. Our food pantry volunteers work with them to choose only the items from our standard food order that will work for someone camping outside. Generally, it’s nothing too heavy, nothing that has to be cooked too much, and preferably everything with pop-tops. If they need one, we have can openers as well.
Some are grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of grandchildren. It is summertime and the kids are home from school, so the grandparents need a little help feeding the extra members of their households.
Whatever the reason, all have decided that an emergency food order with 3-4 days’ worth of food will help them out. Once they have their referral, our food pantry volunteers greet them and start putting together bags of food. Our guests get items for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks. Most of the time, there is also a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and bread available outside the food pantry, and they are able to take as much of these items as they can use. While at Patchwork, the families may get a cup of coffee, chat with some friends they happen to see, talk to our main office staff, or sign their children up for the children’s program. There’s more to their visit than simply getting food.
Almost everyone tells the food pantry volunteers thank you for the food they receive. They tell the volunteers that they appreciate them and Patchwork for being here. They tell the volunteers, “You don’t know how much this will help.” Sometimes they give the volunteers a hug of gratitude.
Our food pantry is pretty well stocked for the time being, but if you’re interested in donating food, our current needs are spaghetti noodles, crackers, and canned vegetables other than corn.