I recently changed my regular routine of helping Michelle in the office to spend the day on the Food for Free truck with driver Dann and volunteer Louis. The morning started at 7:30, and our first stop was the New England Produce Center in Chelsea. The distribution center is the point-of-entry for a lot of the Boston area’s food, and was buzzing with activity. Because the amount of fresh produce available to glean from farms and farmers’ markets significantly drops during the winter and spring months, Food For Free purchases additional produce in order to meet the need for fresh food.
After purchasing and loading a variety of fresh produce and picking up several boxes of bananas donated by Yell-o-Glow, we proceeded to drop the food off at various agencies in the community. We visited the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, the Cambridge Senior Center food pantry, CASPAR, and the East End House food pantry. All of the agencies were eager to see us drive up, and we chatted with agency staff as we unloaded their allocated food.
Next, we drove to the Greater Boston Food Bank to pick up four huge pallets of food. Dann and Louis got to show off their refined pallet jack skills, as we strategized to make sure everything fit in the truck. The truck was almost at its max load, but we had just enough space to stop by When Pigs Fly bakery in Somerville on our way back to pick up 25 pounds of donated day-old bread.
We then headed back to the Food for Free office to unload our goods. Most of it was going to be delivered that weekend to our home delivery clients, and some was set aside for the CEOC pantry (which is in the same building). Everything was unpacked and cleaned up by about 5:30pm.
Spending the day out on the truck helped me to understand the nuts and bolts of how our food system works, and where it all goes. We had moved over a thousand pounds of food in one day, and every ounce was needed, but my experience was only a tiny portion of a much larger picture. I learned a lot, and highly recommend volunteering on one of the truck routes! Get in touch with Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested.