This, apparently, is My Plate.
It's the newest incarnation of The Food Pyramid.
Every school child listening to our Nutrition Expert knew that.
I felt very old, especially when I realized that I was the only one who noticed the voices on the television during her entire presentation.
She engaged the kids, though, and that was as important as engaging the adults. They acted out bran and germ and carbohydrate to demonstrate the beauty of whole grains. We had fun with those My Plate stickers, affixing them to their appropriate sections.
Yes, I said, I did want a mask
although the Brussels sprouts were my first choice.
And then, there was the forklift.
The youngest member of our group looked through the door into the warehouse and raised his hand.
"I want to ride on the forklift!"
"Oh, we all want to ride on the forklift," our docent sighed.
It is that kind of place. Respect is the first item on the ubiquitous values posters; it's on display in every interaction. Clients are greeted as they enter, offered assistance in navigating the carts and the lines and the paperwork, and everyone is smiling. It's hard to ask for help, we're told.
It's easier when people are kind.
Amster and I shared a special smile as we were told how Gabby used the money that people sent to help her after a tragedy your parents can tell you about to help those who need more than food.
The kindness continued out to the benches with hearts
near the tented area where home gardeners sell their produce and the even bigger shaded playground.
We walked through the demonstration gardens
past the chickens
and along a path
the most wonderful memories
Through the warehouse for an overview, before it was time to get to work, we trooped.
The building is vast, organized, and filled with busy, purposeful, badged humans and random donations
from food drives at schools and churches
and foodstuffs donated by grocery stores
and wholesale distributors.
Volunteers go out into the community to harvest grapefruits and oranges and lemons and limes from homeowners who cannot possibly consume (nor pick) all the fruits hanging on their trees. They, along with farmers' extra inventory, also make their way to the warehouse. .
Some of the cans are dented or past their expiration date. Some of the produce is too mushy. But nothing goes to waste.
The farmer comes and picks up the detritus (except that which is so awful that it goes to nourish the compost piles) and returns, as he can, with pork products the Food Bank can distribute.
Waste nothing. What goes around comes around. There is so much to learn.
The random cans and bottles are separated from the softer bags of rice and boxes of cereals.
and are then separated by category.
Different sorts of food boxes are created for different sorts of clients, thousands every year.
Pallets of foodstuffs are delivered to distribution centers and pantries all over Southern Arizona.
Staff and volunteers work inside the warehouse and out in the community.
Want to establish a vegetable garden in your backyard? They'll send a team out to install one. They've done hundreds of them.
The goal is to shorten the line between you and your food. Backyard-to-kitchen is perfect.
Today, Amster and her boys and Mr. Baseball and I were tasked with the rest of our group to package harvested grapefruits in plastic bags, being sure to toss the too soft fruits and those with holes all the way through pieces into the compost bin.
In true assembly line fashion, we each had a specific job. Some selected the fruits, some bagged them, some tied the bags. Someone had to separate those stuck together grocery bags for easy grabbing by the packers. That was a task which could be done while sitting on two stacked plastic crates; I raised my hand and hobbled over.
Our bags of opened bags went over to the assembly line to receive 2 large or 5 small grapefruits.
The teenagers giggled
and the younger kids were quite serious and then our supervisors gave us the one minute warning. Our shift was ending.
We did 15 hours of work today; that's two days of a staff member's time our leader said.
He thanked us for freeing up staff for other tasks.
He escorted us to the door and, a little after 3 o'clock, we five were back in Amster's car, on the way home.
I could have gone to Rep. McSally's Town Hall and tried to pin her down on something. That was my plan until the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach made me reconsider my options. Lady Jane suggested that I trust my gut. I made sure there would be security (thank you, Rep. McSally's staff, for reassuring TBG and me so quickly last night) and I wanted to see democracy in action and I didn't want the shooter to take this from me, and I'd made a small amount of noise about attending, but, in the end, I just didn't want to go.
Doing good made me feel much better than tilting at windmills or facing my demons.
I spent time connecting with others while making the world a little bit better.
That's what I do best.
I think I'll leave the public displays of intention to others for a while.