It was still dark and very cold when Food Bankers arrived before sunrise to set up for the day's food distribution. It would be hours before the turkeys (donated by Food Lion), fresh produce, milk, and more were completely set up and ready for the first families to come through the line, adding, we soon learned, to the 11 hours many had already been waiting. Moms, dads, kids, seniors, rocked back in their seats, bundled in blankets, cardboard in windshields blocking stark parking lot lights. With set up complete, and food bankers and volunteers in place, finally - the first of the hundreds of cars began streaming through the line. On the news that turkeys were available,
more than a few misty-eyed exchanges ensued, plus one very distinctive, glee-filled, seat bouncing, hand clapping storm from a very small, sleepy-eyed boy. Sometimes it’s the simplest of things that brings the greatest joy. Later, we spoke for a few moments with Ernestine S., a resident of a nearby low-income housing community where she is also the President of the Neighborhood Association. “Basic needs, yes, they're a struggle right now for so many of our residents, and I'll tell you what, too-- I'm worried about folks' mental health,” she said, adding that she lived in New York City when 9/11 happened and “this is feeling worse. Lots of parents don’t have the support they need nearby or at all,” she explained. Ernestine talked about the stress parents are under, about moms who are working as caretakers at nursing homes and scared about getting sick and bringing it home, about moms who were caretakers at childcare centers and who are now out-of-work. “Who is going to take care of them—when they get sick or now that car repos are happening and the cable and internet has had to be shut off, even though the kids are supposed to be schooling at home.” The stories we hear are sobering, each and every time Second Harvest hosts a special distribution. Not everyone is faring well through this pandemic. And so we thank you. Thank you for your steadfast support as we and our partner food assistance agencies continue to work together to feed our community.