Most of you know that my introduction to BAG comes through my long-time volunteer role at the Lexington Food Pantry. Since joining the team at BAG, I have been in the unique position of following gleaned vegetables from the field all the way to the grocery bags of our clients. Our pantry has always operated on an open shopping model which gives us the opportunity to spend time with, and get to know our clients.
We serve a diverse group – young families, single Moms, single Dads, older couples. One of the joys of doing this work is getting to know members of my community.
COVID has changed the world and our lives in ways that are too many to list. At the Lexington Food Pantry it has required us to completely change how we operate. In mid-March we switched from our traditional open model to one that uses on-line ordering with pick-up and delivery options.
We never see our clients anymore. I miss that. I miss hearing about their kids, their jobs, their lives. We have new clients I have never met. Our Saturday mornings have become about assembling bags of groceries as quickly as we can. We still try to add a personal touch for the clients we know – a favorite cereal for the kids, or jalapeños for the family that loves spicy foods, but mostly it’s just chaos. I understand why it has to be that way right now, but the joy is missing.
Last week, in the middle of the chaos, my son (who volunteers with me) handed me a cheerful bright green envelope. It was a thank you note from one of our clients – a wonderful connection to the people I miss and just like that, a reminder of the joy.
By Usha Thakrar
Boston Area Gleaners
91 Martin Street
Acton, MA 01720