By Anne Metcalf
The mobile food distribution at Silver Spring UMC/4 Corners (Marvin Memorial) is a cooperative effort in every sense. It began with the Capital Area Food Bank approaching the church, asking if we would participate in the mobile food program. They provide the food and we provide the volunteers. We have volunteers from Marvin and Woodside, as well as neighbors, parents from the Silver Spring Day School, and high school students from Blair. It’s a big effort, but it’s so rewarding to watch the mounds of food disappear as the people move through the distribution line and receive food. Kind of like loaves and fishes, but we have so much to share.
You and I probably don’t have to worry too much about food; the most difficult thing may be when can I get to the store, not can I afford to go to the store? But we have people in our neighborhood who need food badly enough that they will wait outside the church for hours in all weather to receive a number for a place in line to receive food. In the early days, when we opened the doors at 2:00, there would be a surge forward, everyone wanting to be first.
So we begin handing out numbers for a place in line at 8:00 in the morning. People take their number, answer a few questions that the food bank requires us to ask, and come back later in the afternoon to receive their food. We’ll give out about 250 numbers during the day, so we’re providing fresh produce and groceries to 250 families.
The truck from the food bank arrives about 2:00, and it’s impressive to see how much food they deliver. 10,000 pounds of food is a lot of food. The driver lines the pallets up in the driveway outside the front portico and we take stock of what we have. I always worry that we won’t be able to give all the food away, that we’ll have too much and some will be left over, but it always works out.
The volunteers arrive to help give out the food about 2:30. We decide how much of each item to give to each person, and at 3:00 we start calling out the numbers, ten at a time. Our clients, who’ve been waiting in the sanctuary, line up and move down the distribution line, receiving a share of each item.There is a certain amount of chaos in the process; once when things were really crazy, Rev. Kirkland reminded me that “grace is messy.”
By 4:30, things are winding down. The folks who want to go through the line a second time are waiting, the parking lot is emptying out, and we are beginning to take stock of how we have done. Clean up is on-going throughout the afternoon, but it really ramps up now. Rotten food is taken to the dumpster, boxes are broken down, pallets are stacked, the driveway and portico are swept. The sanctuary is empty, but we are full of the good feeling that we have done something special today. I can’t tell you the number of times a client will say “God bless you” to me, but for me it’s a blessing to be able to participate in this program.
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