Minsitry Report: Faith Food Fridays

A Blog Post from FCCV member Suzanne Awalt on her recent volunteer work with Faith Food Fridays, which she connected with through FCCV's partnership with the Vallejo Together Interfaith Coalition on Homelessness.

It’s Thursday morning at Faith Food Fridays (FFF). I have checked in with Mary Ann Buggs and signed a consent form for my volunteer gig as a member of Vallejo Together Interfaith Coalition on Homelessness. Before me is a sea of produce boxes stacked on tables in an off-set pattern. Rosa is the volunteer who strategically arranges the pattern so each box can be accessed. I learn that today we have 186 food boxes that, once filled by today’s volunteers, will be distributed Friday morning, no questions asked, to FFF clients who regularly come to the Solano Avenue facility. The physical space is tight, but the mood is light and our leader, Benjamin Buggs, sets a tone of joy and compassion in a ministry that he has shepherded and grown over 11 years. Today I am directed to place one bag of dried pinto beans in each box. Ann, a seasoned volunteer, suggests I use a shopping cart to carry the boxes and save a few steps. The task of box-filling is scheduled for 9a-2p each Thursday. My shift is 10a-12p. At any one time there are 4-7 volunteers. Benjamin tells me that volunteers come from varied walks of life—persons working off community service; high school students, church groups……so the mood can be altered by the mood and intention of the volunteer. Today the mood is very light and purposeful. Everyone is so helpful to me, the novice. But I quickly learn that this is only Carrie’s second time volunteering and Desiree started only a couple of weeks ago. We develop a rhythm. Periodically, Benjamin cheerily sings out, “Rule number one, don’t block the walk-way!!” Oops, that’s me! Have to take my cart and move on.

Into the boxes go rice, beans, boxed milk, canned meat, baked goods, potatoes, apples, and so on. There are pallets and crates of boxed and bagged food stuffs all around us. There is also a large walk-in cold storage locker. Benjamin has cultivated a relationship with Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano which links FFF to grocery stores and other sources of bulk foods.  On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, trucks fan out for grocery store pick-ups and Food Bank donations around town. Boxes are distributed on Fridays and Sundays. This same well-choreographed “dance” occurs 7 days a week year-round. There is a surplus of boxed milk this week, so Benjamin directs us to place a second one in each food box. I stay until after noon. Rev Dionne Carter from Vallejo Together has come to volunteer. So nice to meet her outside the Zoom screen. Benjamin has prepared lunch. His collard greens with garlic and pork belly are delicious. Each of us receives a FFF t-shirt. This is satisfying work. One thing I realize I forgot to do is to sign-out. Forgiveness is in ample supply here at FFF, so I know I will meet the same warm welcome next time. I definitely will return on future Thursdays. Need I say that volunteers are always welcome at Faith Food Fridays? They are. Talk to me if you want to know more.
P.S. Did you know that FCCV donates some of our garden produce to FFF? Glenda Goode makes the deliveries.


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