The EFG toddled off on the train Tuesday morning to go one of the Fens food banks, and what an eye opening day she had.
There was a clear lack of communication to start with, as the only address she had been given was one of the venues where the food is actually distributed, so she turned up there at the appointed time, to find the place deserted. Thinking wisely, she went to a local church cafe in the town and made some enquiries there, and was directed to another venue about half a mile away, where the food is actually stored and sorted. So she arrived there half an hour late to a cheery lady saying, "Oh, you found us then!" to which my sassy teenager wanted to reply, "Well, no thanks to you lot!" but held her tongue, thank goodness.
She did two shifts, to make the train fare worthwhile since she had to travel at a peak time and couldn't therefore use her Young Person's Railcard, and had two sets of people with her over the two shifts. She reports a lot of tin-shuffling, from this box to that and back again as people could not decide, for example, whether pork and beans was a "meat" or a "vegetable" and whether condensed milk was a "pudding" or an "extra" - and she noticed that people in the second shift reversed decisions that the first shift had made, which made for a lot more re-jigging of stuff!
The food bank depot actually supplies several distribution centres so there was a lot of stuff coming and going, since it seems that the distribution points don't store the food and it all has to be taken in and brought out again each time. A lady in a van does all this picking up and dropping off each time.
The EFG is an organiser, and likes to be efficient, so all the tin-shuffling frustrated her, and the reversing of decisions made her fume when she got home! She will continue, and reflect on the lot of the volunteer in these situations. I am going to give her some money next week to buy some bits and pieces in the local shop on the way to the food bank so that she can make a donation there on our behalf, so she will be sussing out what they are short of next week so that our contribution is of things that they need - she reports that there can't be a lot of tea left in China as most of it is there!
There is another food bank more locally that she is investigating to help out at on another day, so we will see what her experience is like there.
A Chance to Feel Smug
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