Central Texas Food Bank — 3/15 (The End)

Well, we did it. GoWeek 2019 with the Central Texas Food Bank is over. We arrived at the Food Bank early this morning, so we checked in for our shift (9:00 in the warehouse) and waited until it was time to get to work. Cooper was pretty tired, so he decided to seize the opportunity and take a nap (see pic below). Before long, it was 9:00 and we gathered up to hear a few instructions and then headed to the warehouse. It’s a pretty big job, so they brought in another group from Oracle, a software company, to help out. The warehouse is where boxes of donated goods are taken off of pallets and sorted to be sent out to partner organizations, like churches and community centers. Today, there were several teams w/ different tasks. Most of the product we dealt with was frozen meat and the like, some had to identify whether the food was safe to eat; there were several groups at the conveyor belt sorting different types of meats, (frozen lunch meat, turkey, ham, ground beef, etc.) or prepping it to be put on pallets and sent back out of the warehouse for shipping. While the rest of our group manned the line, my dad and I made labels for the different products. For each “category” — lunch meat, ground beef, etc. — we had to write down its five-digit item number, the type of meat, and its weight. It sounds hard, but they had all that stuff written down for us already, so we just had to copy it over. Ultimately though, every box going out needs to be labeled, so we must’ve have made between 500 and 1000 stickers! At least we didn’t have to count a bajillion sporks this time. Label-making is more my speed. Anyway, with the help of the Oracle volunteers, we helped provide a total of — drumroll — 7,750 MEALS! We were able to come together, not just today, but all week, and contribute a whole lot of food to our community and state as a whole, and as a result, lend our hands and our hearts toward the ultimate cause — getting out of our comfort zone and loving on people! Jesus taught that when we serve, practicing humility and kindness towards our neighbor, then we also will experience God’s love and increase in our desire to obey Him. I don’t know exactly how everyone else in the group felt, but I am for sure more in love with God after this week. The work He can do with less than 100 people, even just one person, has the potential to change lives, for instance, providing 7,750 meals to those in need.Why? it’s simple. He loves every one of us, rich or poor, hungry or fed, beyond any level of affection we could ever imagine. Service is our small, but meaningful way of sharing that message of love to those around us. He loves you, He created you, and He wants you to trust in Him. Once you do, you’ll never be the same, and, if you let Him, He’ll use you to do amazing things. Give it a shot. It’s worth it. Thanks for praying for us this week, and I hope our stories have given you a little hope and joy. Thanks for reading them. One final time, I’ll ask you to pray for us. Pray that our experiences from the week will last, and that we will never forget what God did this week in us and His providence for the Central Texas Food Bank.

Thanks for reading,

Logan

 

Central Texas Food Bank — 3/14

On this second to last day of GoWeek, we had the privilege to go out once again and directly serve the community through a mobile food pantry, this time on St. John’s Avenue, behind The Austin Stone’s Hope in the City building. Just like on Monday, we set up in a parking lot, unloaded pallets of all sorts of foods from a truck, put up tables in front of the truck, and passed out the food to a bunch of individuals and households, with a team helping people load their goods into their cars. Today was like that, but WAY bigger. Today, 205 people were served, whereas on Monday, we ended up with 78. Actually, the turnout today, though it was still great, was apparently lower than normal. Even so, we ended up handing out over 18,000 pounds of food! That’s 9 WHOLE TONS, PEOPLE!!!! That’s right, 9 tons of foods like chicken, pork, carrots, lettuce, split peas, canned fruit, cereal, corn, canned potatoes, tomato sauce, juice, and a bunch more. There was even baby formula for families with little ones. We went through cases of potatoes and tomatoes like nobody’s business! Later in the shift, in an effort to thin out leftovers, the designated amount for each person was bumped up. Initially, I gave out 1 can of potatoes and 1 can of tomato sauce to each person who came through. Eventually, that number went all the way up to 4! Bear, who was distributing fruit cups, started off with 12 for each, not to mention anyone who came with a blue sticker to show that they were picking up for either two or three families, meaning their serving would double or even triple! In short, a lot of people got a lot of food today! My favorite part of today was the kindness of the people we served. Everyone said thank you, some asked how our day was, and most offered a smile. My favorite encounters of the day were with a lady that said she was using her “best manners”, and was all excited because she just got an apartment with a great view. Her joy was was contagious, and we couldn’t help but smile while she spoke to us. Also, there was a really nice guy who came up to my station and, after asking me how my day was going, he made a point to tell me that everyone there really appreciated what we were doing, and added, “I know I sure do.” Those types of moments are what God wants us to experience and take away from serving others: realizing that, no matter how small your contribution may seem, you’re a part of brightening people’s days, of inspiring hope. Moreover, joy can dwell in anyone, no matter your current struggle. The woman using her “best manners” was so happy and energetic, and while she still has to come to the food bank for her food, she’s positive, especially now, since God worked it out so she could have an apartment. It’s a great reminder that we should always look to God, and be joyful and grateful because of how he’s blessed us. While we’re at it, we can and should share those blessings with those in need. After all, they’re just as much God’s children as we are, so don’t they deserve to be treated with love, just like us? I ask that you would pray for tomorrow, when we serve CTFB as a team for one final time, that we would remember that everything we do to help out is making a difference to someone, and it’s how God uses us to show people how He blesses them, no matter what they’re going through. Pray that we would remember the gratitude, the laughs, and the smiles we’ve received thus far, and know that we are appreciated, and that the joy we feel in this life is just a preview of what God offers those who trust in Him. Lastly, pray that our last day will be just as productive and fulfilling as the others, so we can look back on our week with satisfaction and the confidence that what we did mattered.

–Logan

Central Texas Food Bank — 3/13

Our 3rd day of serving w/ CTFB has come to a close! We were back onsite at the Food Bank, but due to the rainy weather, our scheduled time in the garden was canceled and we went back to work in the kitchen, led by Chef Chris. Unlike yesterday though, the tasks given to some of the teams were a little different. For example, instead of cutting up carrots or beets, there was a team slicing pizza dough. There were still people working in the cooler, others working the tray line, getting food ready to be packed in the cooler, and part of those meals were salads, made with the vegetables the team had prepared yesterday, (which is pretty cool when you think about it, seeing how yesterday and today came together) and my dad and I were back on spork sorting. (If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, I guess!)

Today, we prepared over 600 meals or so! Plus, I might add, another 3000 spork/napkin/straw kits. (I’m pretty sure by now we’ve gone through all the sporks in the entire world. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but 6000 sporks?!! I mean, come on!!!). So, another great day helping out right here in our community. Not to mention, there was another group of middle-schoolers and teachers in the warehouse today, doing what they could to help out. Just goes to show, you can never run out of opportunities to lend a hand! In our daily debrief, we discussed things that stuck out to us or made an impact during our time in the kitchen today. For example, when you think about something like sorting out bags of sporks 25 at a time, you’re probably not thinking, “Man, I really love this!! I could do this all day!” To be honest, that’s how I felt at first. Then, we ran out of kits. We told Chef Chris, and one thing he said really shifted my perspective: he told us how grateful he and everyone else working in the kitchen was that we did all that work, and that they would be well stocked with utensils for about 2 weeks! I tell that story not to brag, but rather to serve as a reminder that even the little things we do to help others and show kindness, especially those that seem annoying or pointless in the moment, really can go a long way.  In fact, Chris even told our entire group how hard we worked and how appreciative the kitchen staff was. God can do big things with even our smallest deeds and actions. What He requires from us is a big, bold heart to carry out His big, bold plans. Please pray that, as we go out to another mobile food pantry tomorrow, not only that we would be safe, but that our hearts would only grow with a passion to serve and love on God’s people, and that those same hearts would only reflect the goodness of Christ.

–Logan

Central Texas Food Bank — 3/12

Day 2 down, 3 to go! Today, we actually got to work onsite in the kitchen. We got to the facility a little early, so we checked in and waited until our shift started at 9:00. Soon enough, the time came and we were led back into the kitchen, where we donned hair nets, washed our hands, and divided up into teams, so we could get to work. Some washed plates and knives. Some peeled and chopped up carrots. Some cut up beets or sliced pepperoni for pizza (don’t worry, no beets were used in the making of the pizza). Some were brave (or crazy) enough to go into the 34° freezer to get meals ready for transport, and my dad and I had the task of taking utensil bags (filled with a paper napkin, straw, and plastic spork) and putting 25 each into bigger bags for distribution with meals. Also, 6th graders from HP were also there today. While I’m not sure what they were doing, they seemed to be doing it well! From our discussion as a group after coming back to the Quarries, it seemed like everyone really enjoyed working today! We were a power team, giving new meaning to the phrase divided and conquer. While I don’t have exact numbers, we estimate about a gazillion carrots and beets peeled, (props to Mr. Massie and Matthew on carrots and Dawson and Charlotte on beets), close to the same number of dishes washed, 3000 sporks sorted (I’ve never seen so many in my entire existence) and 100 trays of food assembled, with about 6 meals per tray (thanks to Mr. Carson, Coach Collins, and the rest of the “Frozen Few”). To put that into perspective, that’s 600 meals going to schools and childcare programs TODAY, and for some, it will be the only food they get tonight. Hundreds of  hungry young mouths will feel at least a bit of relief. Sure, all those tasks might seem menial or mundane in the moment, but when you take a step back and look at the impact it makes in the end, you can’t help but think that it was all worth it. As we got back to the Quarries for our debrief, we went around and shared a thought or takeaway we each thought was meaningful. For some, it was the realization that the work we did today would go straight to someone in need on the very same day, or the observation of how efficient each station was, and how the kitchen itself and its staff were like a well-oiled machine. Without them, we wouldn’t have had near the same amount of productivity we had today. For me, the best part of it all was talking to Travis. I wasn’t able to get a picture with him, but he was a volunteer who told my dad and I how to sort the sporks and stack them up, plus he was just a super nice, cool guy. While we were on break, he told us that he’s working at the food bank as part of an externship before he goes back to school, where he wants to get a degree in pastry-making and baking, and eventually open his own food truck. He also told us about one of his original recipes, how he first developed a passion for cooking, etc. All in all, if I were to guess God’s response to everything we did today, I think it would be best summed up in the words of Mr. Massie at our debrief this afternoon: “I’m proud of you.” We are God’s children, thus He’s always proud of us, but when we act in obedience to Him, like when we serve, His smile gets a lot bigger and he blesses us with a great outcome, like ending up with hundreds of trays made or getting to know Travis. When we listen to God, great things happen. If you would, pray for us, that we wouldn’t look at this week so much as a requirement but rather as a way to show gratitude and obedience to the God who loves us. Pray that we would be able to make more connections with people, like Travis, and ultimately spread His love in our actions and interactions. — Logan

 

Central Texas Food Bank — 3/11

Day 1 of GoWeek with the Food Bank was a success! After meeting at the Quarries early this morning, we headed over to Parker Lane United Methodist Church, where we served at a mobile food pantry.  Basically, CTFB brought in a truck filled with pallets on pallets on pallets of packaged and canned food (chicken, pork chops, spaghetti, tuna, cereal, veggies, fruit, etc.). We pulled everything out, set up tables in the church parking lot, formed a line, and passed out food to everyone that came through after signing in. Oh, and once each family signed in, they got boxes of lightbulbs, too. (Seems a little weird, I know, but who doesn’t love a good lightbulb, am I right?) I was in charge of spaghetti and tuna, giving each person 2 packs of spaghetti noodles and 4 cans of tuna, and depending on the size of the family (some wore a white sticker with a 2 on it, some had a blue sticker with a 3), the amount of food they received could double, or even triple! It wasn’t too long before we ran out of noodles, and I easily went through at least 3 full cases of tuna. Once people went all the way down the line, Cooper, Ingrid and Graham those with heavy loads get their food into their cars. By the end of the day, we had served 78 families, a record for this pantry location, and distributed 7,000 pounds, (yes, 7,000) of food. Needless to say, we didn’t mess around! Before long, the rest of the food that wasn’t passed out was loaded back on to the truck to be stored until it can be distributed later to someone else in need. As our shift ended and the tables were cleaned up, we went on back to the Quarries, where we did a reflection on our work and what it meant to us. Whether it was the satisfaction of getting to come together as a team and do something genuinely nice for a struggling family, then seeing the smiles on their faces, and the little kids saying “thank you”, or the feeling of emptying box after box of food in so little time, I think we all took away something positive from today. That’s the purpose of GoWeek and even serving in general: spreading joy, light, and the love of Jesus through what we do. Jesus came to serve, to help the poor, the hungry, the disadvantaged, to love and give hope to anyone and everyone willing to receive it. God delights in the delight and joy of His creation, and sent Christ so we could all live in perfect joy and freedom. Service is just one way we can show others that joy as well. As we get ready to serve tomorrow and the rest of this week, I would ask that you pray that we would radiate joy and a sense of willingness to serve in any way we can, and in turn open up our hearts and the hearts of those around us to be changed in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. — LoganIMG_0118

 

 

Before We Go — Central Texas Food Bank

4 MORE DAYS! Tomorrow, as soon as school starts we will meet in the library for about an hour to hang out, talk about the trip, turn in last-minute forms/payments, etc, and most importantly,  get our hearts and minds prepared for whatever God has to say to us at the GoWeek chapel service. Starting 7:30 sharp Monday morning, we”ll meet at the Quarries, and our shift at the food bank starts at 9. So, as we serve next week, packing food, serving it, preparing it, in the warehouse, the garden or wherever else we serve, pray that we would work hard and with full hearts. Personally, I’ve never been to the Food Bank, so this will be an all-new experience for me, as well as most everyone else on the team. Please pray that we would all be safe and build community through our service, growing closer to God and shining the light of Christ to anyone we meet.