Friday, January 30, 2004

This morning our students went up the street about a mile to the regional food bank for No Central NJ. We sorted canned goods, drinks, cereals, pasta, ... The need is great. What amazes me is not only the vast amount of stuff that needs moving, but that there
are people in sufficient need to consume all this stuff.

To visualize what volunteers do in a place like this, imagine capillary action in your blood system. There is one long table, 40-50 yards
in parallel with an assembly line roller tray. The students find one of four prinicpal jobs: first, scooping boxes, cans, bottles, ...
the food stuffs out of large 4' x 4' x 4' crates/cartons they have come in on. there is no order to the cartons or contents. they girls
in this job simply set the stuff up on the long table, starting to impose some order on their stuffs. At this point, the ultimate desitnation is worth noting: there are 15 pallet stations beyond the roller assembly station. Each station will receive a particular king of commodity:
kitchen paper, water and bottled drinks, canned drinks, canned fruit, pasta and beans, ... haba (Heath and Beauty Aids!) ... The second joib is the skill poisition: collecting the stuffs on the table and finding an appropriate box or carton floating down the assembly line. The third job is simply moving the nearly filled carton from the assembly line to the pallet area. A job in limited demand is the setting the
newly opened boxes at the head of the line.

It was most interesting to watch the young ladies find their niche in the process. We were guided in by four strapping young men, one stressing "safety", like where the fire exits were, ... With some prodding from him, the girls started taking their positions, and the process began to flow! There were on the order of 150 of us there, including 12-15 faculty and administration. For the better part of two hours we moved the food.

Our day was kicked off by the diocesan director of Catholic Community Services, who is not directly connected to the Food Bank, but is really the diocesan, or 4 county co-ordinator for the 75 local food banks, who are the member distributors. Imagine a request, "I need 8 cases of tomato and pasta sauce." She noted in her 20 years in the position, with some sadness, the growth in the need for their services.

I felt the girls "got it". Some will continue to.

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