After a brief pep talk, I stepped out of my car and into the brisk, morning air last Wednesday. I walked inside the big, aluminum building that housed a horse arena. I was an hour early, but more than 50 people covered in blankets and coats were already waiting in line.
On the third Wednesday of every month, Ballard Community Services hosts a mobile food pantry at the Douglas County Fairgrounds.
Anyone can show up to the fairgrounds and receive food, which is provided by Harvester’s Community Food Network in Kansas City, Mo.
I was nervous to talk to the people waiting in line. I did not want to be disrespectful toward them by bombarding them with questions. So I kept it simple. I asked them about their experiences with the mobile food pantry.
Everyone I talked to had overwhelmingly positive opinions.
Some concerns they voiced were transporting the food back home, the inconsistency of the types of food available and the quality of the food.
One woman in line, Diane, mentioned how one month she received molded raspberries. She did say that was very rare — almost always the produce Harvester’s brings is good quality.
I was out of my element here. I was worried about people not wanting to talk to me. Once I started talking to a few people, others came to me to strike up a conversation. I talked to Diane for about an hour longer than I had intended on staying.
Through this experience I learned more about the food pantry process. I saw the direct effects instead of only hearing about them.
I felt like a part of the system and not just an outsider looking in who does not fully understand the process.