Insight World Aid’s March, 2014 collaboration with Second Harvest Food Bank was a success! Nine Insight World Aid volunteers came together to sort food at the Second Harvest warehouse in San Carlos on March 12th. Later in the month, twelve Insight World Aid volunteers donated their time and effort at the March 26th Second Harvest food sort. Many thanks to the IWA volunteers for their hard work! Please see the short essay below about the experience and enjoy some photos taken during both sorts.
Reflections on Hunger Amidst Affluence, Musings on Coming Together Over Service
by Paul Lindenfeld, Board Member, Insight World Aid
After a nice Insight World Aid get-together at Cafe La Tartine in Redwood City and a chance to get to know each other, our volunteer group of about 10 people heads off to the Second Harvest food warehouse in San Carlos. We then signed in and assembled together along with about 30 other people, some volunteering with other groups and some individual or family volunteers. Rita, who is the Second Harvest volunteer coordinator and extremely passionate about the work Second Harvest does, explains that Second Harvest feeds about 250,000 people in the San Francisco Bay Area monthly. Many of them are children, many are elderly. Most are members of working families that, due to the extremely high cost of housing in the Bay Area, cannot afford to put enough food on their tables after they pay their monthly rent or mortgage. At first, I feel rather fortunate that I do not think I know anyone in that situation. However, something is not right about that thought. I can feel my heart tugging at it and a soft whisper of a thought telling me that is not correct. I suspect that my self awareness is due to my meditation practice but I don’t really know as I can only live my life one way. I realize that my feeling of being fortunate is a subtle way to separate myself from the reality of hunger that many people deal with. A new realization opens like a blossom. I wonder how many people, whom I interact with but don’t know, are or have been part of the hungry 250,000? It may be the guy who cleans the bathrooms at my favorite restaurant or the person who bagged my groceries at the supermarket, working hard and trying to feed her family. It may be a friend of mine that would be too embarrassed to ever say anything to me about it. In circumstances that are different than mine but possible in one uncertain instant, it could be me. It could be any of us. “It could be me” is what feeling fortunate protects me from. Protects me from uncertainty but at the cost of unity and at the cost of seeing this life clearly. I tune back in. There is work to do.
“Beep, beep, beep,” the small forklift chirps as it brings another massive cardboard box filled with donated food items into the sorting area. Insight World Aid/Second Harvest volunteers immediately descend upon the cache and start to fill their hard worn crates almost to the breaking point. The volunteers then lug the full crates to large sorting tables where another team of volunteers sorts the food and removes items that are damaged or too old to use. The loosely choreographed ballet continues as a platoon of runners collects the sorted food and transports them to specific quixotically labeled bins. For example, one bin was titled “All cereals less than 4 pounds, no granola bars or bulk items” and another, “Pop top cans, sized 9 to 19 oz, no fruit.” From there, the now-sorted food is packed into smaller boxes to be taken to Second Harvest and other distribution centers in a separate operation.
It is very “in the moment” work, well suited to those who are practicing mindfulness, and the 2 hours pass quickly. After about 1/2 an hour, the mind has worked out the schema enough that it quiets and the collective nature of the work becomes more apparent. How often, in our age of computer technology and instant communication, do adults physically work side-by-side as a team, with each person doing their small, but invaluable, part? The work reminded me of a video I was shown in college biochemistry class by a rather tongue-in-cheek professor and had not thought of in years. It was from the early 70’s and featured aerial shots of bunch of costumed hippie grad students on a soccer field demonstrating protein synthesis. The flavor of the video invoked a very psychedelic marching band, working together in a rough unison. OK, so I subsequently found that video on You Tube* and the food sort really was not far out like that video at all but we were working together, we all needed each other to get the job done, and we had fun!
* Curious about the video are you? Mention the video when you RSVP for an IWA local project and all will be revealed (or use your search engine. Hints: Stanford and 1971) !
News and Mission blogs
- A New Era for IWA July 23, 2019
- IWA Board of Directors Welcomes Aaron Chivara November 19, 2014
- IWA Organizes Two Food Sorts at Second Harvest Food Bank in March April 21, 2014
- Join Team IWA in a Second Harvest Food Sort February 9, 2014
- When You Come Back? October 22, 2013
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