One of the things that I appreciate most about working at a new place is seeing how it changes and adapts right in front of my eyes.
While Merrilee and I looked at a big, blank sheet of paper, ready to plan out a mini-documentary project about PR Food Center's work that we've been thinking about, it finally clicked for me: I actually understand what the Food Center does, wants to do, and doesn't do.
Last year, Merrilee drew me a spider-web-looking map of what the Food Center does. Since then, we've grown as an organization in ways that we didn't fully expect. Some changes were born from struggles and challenges posed by a global pandemic, and some were destined for our organization all along.
If you asked me "so what does the Food Center DO?" I would say: We connect people with healthy food through a myriad of different channels. We redistribute large quantities of food throughout the region by partnering with Good Shepherd Food Bank and local farmers. We connect with individuals and households through programs like FarmShare for Homebound Seniors, Garden in a Box, delivering Commodity Supplemental Food boxes to seniors, and our senior book exchange program. We do lots of little things, and also some really great big things. We are growing every single day of the year. We are learning new information each week, and adapting to it the best that we can. We accept that some of the things that we do don't pan out, but others are spectacular successes.
What I love so much about all of our tiny little things and also our great big things, is that they all stem from love, community, and equality. We're practical dreamers. We can envision an equitable food system that is supported by our community. We know that we're a long way away from solving the hunger crisis and eliminating food insecurity, but we also know that there is so much that we can do right now, largely with what we have.
So this week, I'm reflecting on all of the tiny things. From opening the "notes" app on my phone so that I can see which brand of peanut butter one customer likes, wedging tiny flowers into commodity food boxes during deliveries, hand-picking books that I think someone in our book-exchange program will enjoy, and eating donuts on the office floor with Merrilee while we plan out a mini-documentary, the Food Center makes so much sense. We are here to help people, and help people help others. We're the spider that's weaving the web. So if you're ever confused about what we do in the community, think of us as the food-system spider!