In her six years working at Second Harvest, Marian Eidson, has volunteered at feeding sites countless times, but it’s her first Mobile Pantry that had the biggest impact. Read on to learn why this hot morning in West Tennessee is one she will never forget.
It was my first Mobile Pantry as a new Second Harvest employee, and it changed my life.
When Second Harvest staff and volunteers arrived at a West Tennessee fairground that morning, the summer heat was stifling. There was a large crowd gathered, but the food distribution wouldn’t start for another hour.
Why were they at the hot, dusty fairgrounds so early?
Come to find out, people had begun arriving at 5 a.m. to save their place in line. They knew two Second Harvest trailers filled with food were on their way.
THE NEED IS EVERYWHERE
At Mobile Pantries, perishable items like dairy and frozen foods are distributed from refrigerated trucks. Bread, produce, and non-perishables are set up on tables outside. Those in need go through the line with a shopping cart, choosing food they’ll use. When they finish, a volunteer helps load their groceries into their vehicles.
My job was in a refrigerated truck. We handed out eggs, butter, milk, and mushrooms. Everyone was so grateful to receive that food. There were lots of smiles. How could everyone be so pleasant in that sticky heat?
Standing in that truck was an experience I won’t forget. It gave me a bird’s-eye view of the entire scene. It was so quiet, and the line was so long. There were people from 320 households – moms, dads, children, grandparents – all ages, all silent, fanning themselves in the oppressive heat, waiting patiently for their turn.
We changed shifts, and I got down from the truck to help people load their groceries. Some people appeared to be living in their cars. Others didn’t have a car at all.
The Mobile Pantry lasted nearly five hours, and more than 40,000 pounds of healthy food went home with our neighbors in need.
I always knew there was need, but seeing the people in that long line with my own eyes made hunger so much more real.
The need is everywhere – in our local schools, places of worship, and yes, down the street from where we live. Together, we can make it better.
September is Hunger Action Month, a time when people across America stand together to fight hunger. It’s a month to take action on the hunger crisis and dedicate ourselves to a solution.
Volunteering your time like I did at the Mobile Pantry is just one way to take action. You can also host a food drive, make a generous gift, or simply share our mission to fight hunger with your friends and family.
I hope you’ll join me in taking action against hunger this September. You won’t regret it, and if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll never forget it.