My Weight Watchers leader, Martha, is this energetic powerhouse who organizes a big group every year to help out at the Alameda County Community Food Bank. She passed out grocery bags to those who wanted to donate food and even organized rides for those who couldn’t get there on their own.
I signed up, bought some groceries to donate, and got my husband to join me. I was worried that the stop-and-go traffic on the freeway was going to make us too late to participate, but we walked in only five minutes after we were supposed to start. We donned name tags, watched an introductory video, and got trained in less than twenty minutes.
Out on the warehouse floor were various stations. I took a spot at the apple conveyor belt, thinking of Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory. But that belt moved like molasses, and with six of us bagging apples, we spent a lot of time waiting for them to reach us. Eventually we got into a groove in which the folks at the top of the line used their arms to sweep more apples down our way, which was somewhat more efficient, if not ideal. After our break, I took a turn at the apple bin, loading bowlfuls onto the conveyor belt. That work was more constant, and I felt more useful. (I’m really not good at waiting.)
There was some good-natured camaraderie and discussions of what qualified an apple as bad. We weren’t allowed to wear headphones, but I didn’t need them to hear in my head the one 45 that I ever bought by the Osmonds—”One Bad Apple.” Which does make me wonder what I would have been humming if I had been at the kiwi station.
The group of about fifteen Weight Watchers gathered for a photo next to the food donations we’d brought. Along with a large student contingency from the American Indian High School and a few individual volunteers, the volunteers numbered around 60. At the end, a Food Bank staff member said we’d bagged 86,000 pounds of fruit, which would provide something like 26,000 meals. Or maybe it was 26,000 pounds, which would proved 86,000 meals. I mean in one scenario, a person is eating three and a half pounds of fruit, which seems like a lot to me. On the other hand, ten ounces of fruit all by itself isn’t really a meal. So I don’t know how they figure out the number of meals…
But the afternoon flew by, and nobody really had to work all that hard while we were there; yet we bagged enough apples and kiwis to fill several huge containers that would be distributed to hungry people on Monday. The staff there was friendly, helpful, and appreciative. And it was kind of fun too.
All in all, not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.