Doylestown Food Pantry: A Volunteer’s Perspective
May 23rd, 2014
Bucks Knocks Out Hunger is coming up on June 20th! Over the next few weeks, our blog will feature stories, articles and news from our BKO Hunger partners to highlight their work and demonstrate the impact that the project will have on our community. The first is a testimonial about working in the Doylestown Food Pantry, by Penn State student, Kimberly Craig.
My experience over the last few weeks at the food pantry has opened my eyes to both the amazing people who use the pantry and those who help maintain this program.
Often when people think about those who use a food pantry, they think about all of the negative stereotypes. That a person accessing the pantry is lazy, isn’t working, or isn’t trying to find work, or that they’re abusing the system to benefit themselves. During my time in the pantry, however, I have been lucky to meet some of the most wonderful people. People who prove that these stereotypes are a myth. I have met fascinating people who are pleasant and friendly but have fallen on a rough times for a variety of reasons.
I met a woman who not only goes to the pantry to get food for herself but also to look out for her elderly neighbors. She often asks to take any leftover items home for them, as they can’t make it to the pantry themselves. My most eye-opening experience at the pantry was the day a donor dropped off a few gallons of fresh milk. I have never seen people so excited to receive milk! The pantry patrons kept saying how happy they were because some of them haven’t had real milk in months. In my house, we rarely go a day without it. Everyone at home just expects it to be there, so seeing what a luxury it was for these people was amazing.
Something that surprised me at the pantry is that the clients are pretty happy. Even while standing outside in the cold waiting for the pantry to open, everyone seemed to have a smile on their face. It was interesting to learn about the lives of the clients while they waited. These people were just struggling to meet their food needs, and using the pantry allowed them to go a few days without worrying about food.
The Doylestown pantry is run like small grocery store, which I really like. I feel that it makes it more accessible for people to receive help without feeling the stigma associated with visiting a pantry.
Additionally, the clients have an opportunity to choose what they want, based on their taste and their family; they are not just handed a bag of assorted food. This set up also made it more fun for those involved – it’s like being back in my old job as a bagger at Acme! This sense of normalcy is probably comforting to those who have fallen on hard times.
The most important behavior I have witnessed during my work at the food pantry is how kind and polite everyone is to each other. Everyone, regardless if they are getting food or just helping out, talks to each other with so much respect. It certainly makes me feel grateful to be part of an effort to help my neighbors in need, and this is a lesson that I can carry on through my life.
About the contributor: Kimberly Craig is a Penn State student with a major in social service. One of the requirements for graduation is an internship at a social service agency. Kim has been doing her internship at the Doylestown Community Food Pantry. This is her first time working in a pantry, and her experience reminds us all of the positive effect of kindness shared and to appreciate what we have.