by Susan Wilson
When the Maryland Food Bank offered a monthly delivery of produce to food pantries, the St. Anthony’s Ladies of Charity in North Beach, MD went into action. From July through October, rain or shine, in hot and cold weather, the Ladies orchestrated a monthly food distribution in the St. Anthony’s Church parking lot. The target population was Northern Calvert County. Local church organizations, businesses and government and social services organizations were notified in advance of the event by email and flyers.
The days began early as strong volunteers including Ladies and other parishioners, arrived at eight a.m. to set up tables, chairs, and canopies. Later the truck arrived with 5000 to 6500 pounds of produce on pallets. Still more volunteers then assembled family-size bags of produce and put the bags on tables, arranged like an assembly line.
Clients, once checked in as to name and family size (no ID required), were invited to stop at each table and select bags of produce based on family size. More volunteers used folding wagons to take the produce to the clients’ cars and load the bags. The food distribution happened over a two hour period. Once all clients were served, it was time to put away any left over produce (large bags of cucumbers, anyone?), and take down and put away the tables, chairs, and canopies. All in all 30 to 40 dedicated volunteers helped with each Mobile Pantry event.
During the four Mobile Food Pantry events, the Ladies of Charity served over 23,000 pounds of produce to nearly 500 households, representing more than 1300 people. Our spiritual moderator told us Pope Francis would be very happy to know about this!