Thursday, September 19, 2013

Those receiving food show gentle kindness to one another

In a parking lot surrounded by buildings on the property of Macomb-Oakland Regional Center, those in need came to pick a basket full of fresh vegetables and fruit collected by Forgotten Harvest.

It’s a ritual on the third Thursday of the month that goes on rain or shine, winter or fall.
About 60 people this time took turns using a rolling grocery cart which was filled up with zucchini, small potatoes, squash, fresh peaches, coffee in one-pound sacks, corn-off-the-cob, pizza, beef jerky, cranberry juice and fresh apples.

“How many can I have, two or three?” one woman said when she got near the table where the zucchini was stacked. “Take 10, take as many as you want,” said volunteer Sharon who spent four hours stacking the zucchini on the table and pulling potatoes out of 50-pound sacks.
Peter LeClerc of MORC’s accounting department volunteered. He pushed the carts for those who had a disability and needed a helping hand.
“We’ve done this in the middle of winter,” he said.

Hunger often is a constant companion of too many in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties where one-in-six people live in a perpetual state of not having enough food to sustain a healthy body.
The 50 or 60 people who came to get the free food were patient. Nobody took cuts. They looked at the amount of food in giant boxes to make sure there was enough for those who were in line behind them.

“I have five children to feed,” one woman said. “Can I have this larger bag of potatoes?”
“Of course,” said a volunteer, Theo.

When the food is gone, it is gone. At 10 a.m. when people started pulling into the lot in vans, pickups and cars, an observer thought there wouldn’t be enough food to go around. But the stores went quickly and were gone with two hours.
Volunteer Barb Breen of Waterford thought “it was wonderful” to see so many receiving food so they can get through the week.

“A lot of people don’t know about this,” she said of the food donations or the collection of excess food from grocery stores and the efforts of Forgotten Harvest of Oak Park whose mission is “to relieve hunger.”
“We can never do enough,” said Breen.

Drexel Lane of MORC would help control the flow of people picking out food.
“We got two bags of taters over here,” he said. “Please give me a case of peaches for this lady. We can’t give out one of anything, take more.”

And as quietly and orderly as they came, those who received food dispersed. Many had smiles and were speaking of how they were going to bake the zucchini or make a peach pie.
They had reason to be joyful. They succeeded in beating hunger from their door for another day or so.

Jerry Wolffe is the Writer-in-Residence/Advocate-at-Large at the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center. He can be reached at 586 263-8950.