Friday, July 18, 2008

Follow up

"If we had just one month of the cost of this war in Iraq, we could fund a worldwide school lunch program, and the world might be more peaceful.." ~George McGovern

Remember the community garden at East Nashville Co-Op? Well, I ran by there the other day and although they were closed at the time, I couldn't resist a peek through the fence. Two of the three back rows are filled with tomato plants and everything seems to be coming along rather well. From a gardening standpoint, I'm pretty amazed since the dirt they started with was a little bit of an urban gardener's nightmare (glass, gravel, rusted scrap metal, etc.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Just learning

About to start a new job in two weeks, Brandy and her three beautiful kids, returned to Nashville having tried and failed, to make a start somewhere else. The defining issue in her case was childcare. She had a great job but was still having to pay three hundred fifty dollars a week for childcare alone. A novice in the area of social services, Brandy came to the pantry this day, for the very first time, hoping to bridge the food gap until her new job begins.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Today's options

What's wrong with this picture? It may not be terribly obvious but the two overgrown zucchinis in the foreground are the only fresh produce in the building. Where food distribution is concerned (*), fresh produce can be tricky and pretty much requires the thoughtful planning and attention of a single gardener or volunteer shopper, willing to search for it on a given day. At Hamilton UMC, there's at least one member who donates tomatoes in the summer from their own garden but this only lasts a few weeks. In the remaining months of the year, recipients make do with whatever's available. For those wondering about how the emergency food box program works, each individual is allowed three visits in six month. Most often, boxes are packed with the number of family members in mind and the three visits can be used at any time within the six months. There are some situational variations based on location and the services provided within each agency but that's the basic guideline.

(*) Please be advised that what I know about food distribution is limited to three months and two weeks of study. I'm not entirely ignorant, but I'm certainly not an authority. Those voices would be a welcome addition here so if anyone out there has thoughts, ideas or corrections, please do speak up.

There is a great post (one in a series) at Tyson's Hunger Relief blog this week, it's called Art of the Cart--5. I hadn't heard of the Food Stamp Challenge before but what a great idea. I think everyone who hasn't already been challenged by hunger, should have a big spoonful of that, if for no other reason than to sharpen our perspective.

South Nashville

Elise Nollenberger records client information for emergency food boxes at
Hamilton United Methodist Church in Antioch.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bus stop

I offered to bring the grocery cart back from the bus stop. Mr. Patterson was concerned that someone else might need to use it. On the short walk over there, we didn't talk about what brought him to this place or the ninety degree heat, or the fact that he'd had to not only ask for food but also for the bus fare to get back across town. We talked about dentists and Nashville drivers, the price of gas and the war.